Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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1 Av 5766 - July 26, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Tisha B'Av 5766: Learning to Build While the Bombs Fall

Some years, like this one, we do not have to be reminded to mourn. With our outside enemies openly trying to wreak another churban upon us, we find it natural to seize the tools of our forefathers and cry out to Hashem for help.

It is important to use our physical situation to create and emphasize the mood of the day. The general rule on Tisha B'Av is that one should minimize his personal dignity and comfort as much as possible — in the clothes he wears, in how he sleeps, in how he sits, in what he thinks about — in order to feel more deeply and thoroughly the loss of the Beis Hamikdosh.

Nonetheless, neither our personal situation nor our immediate threats, which loom so large, should prevent us from mourning the general loss that we recall of the Beis Hamikdosh and all that its presence implied.

A mourner, such as we are on Tisha B'Av, must not take his mind off of the subject of his mourning. The limitations on him — not to learn Torah, not to do work — are such as to ensure that the mourning fills his purview.

To be hunted and threatened by enemies is our natural state in our golus, as long as we lack the full structure of life as it should be lived: the living Beis Hamikdosh which enables us as a people to perform the full range of avodas Hashem as prescribed in the Torah. We are to live centered on spirituality, dedicated to service to Hashem, and organized as a people around its highest expression in the cycle of korbonos in the Beis Hashem in Yerushalayim.

We cannot imagine what it was like to attend the Beis Hamikdosh. All of our experience provides not even a hint of the experience of bringing a korbon. Ignorant people project the blood and filth of a slaughterhouse, but "you slaughter a lamb, for example, and get all dirty with its blood in skinning it and washing out the entrails, in rinsing it and butchering it, sprinkling the blood, arranging the wood and burning it with the fire on the pile. And if it were not done as a result of a Divine commandment, you would sneer at such deeds and think that they take you further from G-d and not bring you closer . . . Until, when everything is completed properly, you see a Heavenly Fire, or you find within yourself a different spirit that you were not used to, or true dreams — then you will know that these achievements are the results of what you did earlier and you will realize the great thing that you have cleaved to and gained. After that, it would not bother you at all to die, after coming to such a state, because your death is only the end of your body. But the soul that has reached this level will not come down from it nor become distant from that achievement" (Kuzari 3:53).

All of the discomfort and fear and oppression that we experience should enhance our mood and help us mourn what we truly miss: the functioning Beis Hamikdosh that was a spiritual beacon to the entire world.

We must yearn for the right things, and strengthen our performance in learning and doing. Our fundamental obligation to Hashem should be enough to draw and inspire us throughout the year, even when bombs are not falling.

If the Beis Hamikdosh is not yet built, it shows that we have not yet rebuilt ourselves.

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