Monday, July 19, 2010

Pre Tisha B'Av

Tisha B'Av is a we day, not an I day. It is a day of mourning communal loss, not personal stuff. And yet, we can't easily break away from our selves. Based on Yirmiyahu 13:17 the Gemorah in Chagigah 5b says that G-d has a hidden place named Mistarim where He cries over the destruction of the Temple. This is despite the fact that on the surface He projects happiness (based on Divrei HaYamim 16:27). The Maharal explains that this hidden place where G-d cries is in the soul of every Jew. The idea is that in our souls, which are an aspect of G-d inside us we all mourn over the Churban, even though on the surface we are unaware of this and all seems to be fine. This reality can be compared to a home which is destroyed and the owner is unaware of the true value of the home to the fortune buried in its foundation. We are not in touch with the severity of the loss of the Beit HaMikdash.

The Rama writes in Toras Chaim that Plato was with Nevuchadnetzer when the former destroyed the Beit HaMikdash. Afterward Plato saw Yirmayahu crying uncontrollably. He asked Yirmiyahu if it wasn't beneath such a sophisticated intellect to be crying over sticks and stones. He also asked what the point was to cry about what was in the past. Yirmiyayu responded by asking Plato if he had any major questions about life. Plato presented a litany of difficult questions and Yirmiyayu proceeded to answer each one. Plato was dumbfounded, shocked that anyone could be so wise. Yirmiyahu told him, "I became wise through this building of wood and rock. " Yirmiyahu also said that Plato would not be able to understand why he cried for the past. Rav Simcha Zisel Ziev explained that what seems to be crying for the past is what begins to bring the rebuilding of the future Temple. This is a supra-rational concept, and though seemingly simple would have been beyond Plato's purview of pure logic.

Just as when we appreciate something good we go back to the very roots of that thing (as when we bring Bikkurim we go back to Arami Oveid Avi) so too when it comes to a negative situation to mourn it properly we trace it back to its earliest source. The tears which Yirmiyahu cried for the Churban, and which we continue to cry today go way back. Rabbi Yochanan says (Taanit 29a) that the day that the meraglim gave their report was Tisha B'Av. G-d said "You cried for no reason, I will set this as a perpetual time of tears."

It sounds almost petty on G-d's part. The deeper meaning, according to the Maharal is this: When G-d took us out of Egypt it was a new creation. Our essence was predicated on our connection to G-d, Torah, and the land of Israel. When the people actually cried over the negative report regarding Israel they were rejecting the land and severing their connection to Israel. The consequence of this is that the we have to make the bond once again. Just as it was broken the connection will come about through true tears. Tears are, in the words of Rav S.R. Hirsch, sweat of the soul. Tears reveal what a person truly feels deep inside. Thus, this day must be a day of crying to truly show our longing for the land which we ourselves pushed away with our tears in the time of the meraglim.


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