Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tisha B'Av 5776

Tisha B'Av 5776:

Tisha B’Av is a very sad day; as we know, both Batei HaMikdash were destroyed on that day.  So now, we are not able to even offer the special offerings to Hashem!  And we cannot perform the special services that He wanted us to!  When we had the Beis HaMikdash, we could perform the service of Hashem to the ultimate level!  But, even though Hashem gave us this special House, we sinned and sinned, and He had to have it destroyed, and send us into Gallus. 

He was kind enough to grant us another chance, and we got a second Beis HaMikdash!  But, we sinned again!  And He had to make this one, too, get destroyed.  The Gemara (Yoma 9b) tells us that the first Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of the sins of:  Avodah zarah; shefichus damim (i.e. murder), and arayos.  And we are also told that the second Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of sinas chinam (between Jews).  So one of our goals in this time should be to rectify these things.  Surely we do not do the first three things (Chas V’Shalom!); however, maybe we are mean to fellow Jews.  And maybe we don’t like some of them, or treat some badly.  We must try to rectify these sins by doing the very opposite!  We should treat Jews very well, and we should love every Jew (like the command to love your fellow as yourself).  Then we can, B’Ezras Hashem rectify those sins!  So now let us move on to another topic of Tisha B’Av:

Actually, something people might not notice is that the Gematria of the Hebrew word חוּרבּן is 266.  This has the same Gematria as the word סוּר, which means 'turn'.  Tisha B'Av is a day where we have time to think about what we are doing.  Until Chatzos (according to some Poskim), we are not allowed to learn Torah, and so we are supposed to be sitting there, mourning.  Mourning over the Churban, and mourning over the sins that caused it.  So we can be thinking about the sins, and our own sins; the ones that we have done.  And it is a time to correct failings.  As we caused the Churban Bayis, so we must try to cause the next and final, indestructible one to be rebuilt.  So now we see how connected the words 'Churban' and 'Sur' are:  On Tisha B'Av, the day of the Churban, it is a time for us to concentrate on turning ('Sur' means to turn) away from our evil ways, and coming back to Hashem completely.  And Hashem should help everyone to do this, Amein. 

Furthermore, Chazal tell us that somebody who properly mourns over the Beis HaMikdash will merit seeing it be rebuilt!  And so, we see that it is very important to mourn over the Churban (destruction).  We should all be able to cry over the fact that the Beis HaMikdash is not around anymore.  But as HaRav Avraham Schorr shlita basically explained; you have to have felt the holiness to feel the lack of it.[1]  Ah, so this can be an answer to why we don't seem to have so much feeling about the Churban:  Because we haven't felt that Kedusha!  But this just shows how low of a level we are on.  The fact that we cannot feel the loss of sanctity, the loss of everything! 
We seem to live in a world bereft of feelings.  But we must not be like that, Chas V'Shalom.  We all must be able to mourn over the loss of the Holy House; to cry to Hashem to bring it back.  And the cold hard truth, so to speak, is that if we can't cry over the lack of Beis HaMikdash, then why do we deserve to have it back with us?  If we do not appreciate the specialness of it, then why are we worthy of having it?!  This might even be one of the deeper significances of what Chazal mean when they say that all who mourn properly over the Churban Beis HaMikdash will be zocheh to see it rebuilt:  That one who feels the holiness of the Beis HaMikdash, and who then also feels the loss of Kedusha because of the Churban is somebody who deserves to see it rebuilt.  If we, Chas V'Shalom, do not appreciate how special the House of Hashem was (and will be!), then how can we properly mourn over it? 
So, as HaRav Asher Weiss shlita explains, we should visualize the holy Beis HaMikdash going up in smoke right in front of our very eyes, and this will help us to feel properly sad about it.[2]  For we must be able to feel the proper sadness over the huge loss.  And this must be.  Rav Weiss shlita explains as well that we need to think about the Churban as if it is happening now – in the present.  Then we will be able to, B'Ezras Hashem, feel sadder over it.[3]  Why?  Well, to answer this, there is a question we need to ask:  Why are we not all on the floor, crying hysterically over the destruction of the Holy House of Hashem?  It must be that we do not really feel it so much.  Those who are zocheh to be at the Kosel HaMaaravi will likely feel it more, because they are connected to the standing bit of it (which is centuries and centuries old, part of the House of Hashem!  Can you imagine that?) and they feel the special Kedusha.  Then they begin to realize the absolute holiness of when the entire House was here!  And, now we see the answer to our question:  We don't feel connected to the Beis HaMikdash anymore!  It has been so many years, and we are not involved in the holy things that we should be involved in, so we, #1, do not even feel holiness as much, and #2, we do not connect ourselves to Hashem and the holy Beis Hamikdash.  Another thing is that for us to properly feel sadness over the Churban, we have to first realize how special and holy the Beis HaMikdash was (and will be). 
So visualizing the Churban right in front of our very eyes – recounting to ourselves the many, many great and awesome miracles in the Beis HaMikdash – will connect us, B'Ezras Hashem to that Holy House, and Hashem.  As this year's Tisha B'Av continues, we must try to take these things to heart, and really try to mourn properly over the Churban.  And if we do this, we will be zocheh, B'Ezras Hashem Yisbarech, to see the rebuilding of the Beis Chayeinu very speedily in our days.  May Hashem help us to do this, and may He very speedily rebuild His Holy House, Amein, vi'Amein. 

I would like to continue, though, a little further:  Every single person has a precious Neshama inside of them; as the Tanya (and others) brings down, it is a “piece”, so to speak, of Hashem.  And it is so holy!  Our Soul is actually almost like our own, personal Beis HaMikdash; inside of us!  We are supposed to guard it from the invading forces; the Yetzer hara, who wants to destroy our Soul.  And this is something to concentrate on always; though The Three Weeks remind us of this message.  We must always try to stop these invading forces, and keep our ‘Beis HaMikdash’ standing!  The real Beis HaMikdash may not be around, but we all sort of have one inside of us; and it is up to us to stop the invading forces from destroying it. 

Now, as we know, Hashem does not need to eat; however, when we offered Him offerings, it was called ‘the food of Hashem’.  So, though He does not need food, it was still called that.  I would like to propose a kavanah that would be good to have while we are fasting on Tisha B’Av:  As we know, it is because of our sins that the Batei HaMikdash are not here anymore.  And so, this is why we are not able to offer things to Hashem anymore.  Ah, since offerings are called ‘the food of Hashem’ (ki’vi’yachol), then we can understand the kavanah I am talking about:  Since we caused the fact that we cannot offer up ‘the food of Hashem’ anymore, how can we possibly even look at food?!  How can we think of eating?  (Again, in no way should anyone think that Hashem eats.  However, the offerings were still called ‘the food of Hashem’.  And I am trying to derive a lesson from the term used). 

We must mourn over the fact that the Batei HaMikdash are destroyed, and we cannot perform the service of Hashem to the ultimate, such as offering things to Him, but we must always try to serve Him to the best that we all can.  And you would be surprised how high a level that really is!  On Tisha B’Av, we must also mourn over our sins, because it was because of them that we are in Exile.  Now, I have been asked before, when I said this; ‘why should we mourn over our sins, when it wasn’t our personal sins that caused the Churban?!’  But the answer I gave, and am giving, is that we too, have our own package of sins.  And, the Sages (Yalkut Shimoni - Tehillim 137, 886; Yerushalmi Yoma 1:1 - 5a) have said that a generation that does not bring Mashiach is considered as if they had caused its destruction.  So, the fact that we have not yet returned to Hashem and brought Mashiach is our very own fault!  We know that we all have our own packages of sins, and it is up to us to repent for them, and return to Hashem wholeheartedly.  Every single moment in our lives, we have another opportunity to serve Hashem.  And let us all return now to Hashem, and serve Him in truth. 
These are a lot of thoughts that should pass through our minds on the Nine Days and Tisha B’Av.  And if we do what we are supposed to, repent to Hashem, and actually serve Him in truth, then we will be fulfilling our purposes in life. 
And, may Hashem make this the last sad Tisha B’Av, and the last one in Gallus.  As our Sages teach, Mashiach will be (maybe he already was!) born on Tisha B’Av.  May Hashem send Mashiach very, very speedily, making these the last hours in Gallus, and may He rebuild the Third, and final, indestructible Beis HaMikdash very, very swiftly, Amein vi’Amein, so may it be His Will! 
Have a wonderful, wonderful rest of Tisha B'Av everybody!  And may it be full of Teshuva! 
Refoel Berel
[1]©.  Do You Feel The Galut.’  Shiur given by HaRav Avraham Schorr shlita. 

[2]©.  ‘Tisha B’Av and Churban HaBayis.’  Shiur given by HaRav Asher Weiss shlita. 

[3]©.  ‘Tisha B’Av and Churban HaBayis.’  Shiur given by HaRav Asher Weiss shlita. 

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