Sometimes it happens to us.. And sometimes we do it to others As we all know, the main theme of Tisha B’Av is the fact that our Holy Temple— our source of inspiration, spiritual fulfillment, and vision— is destroyed.
All a Jew needed to do to reconnect to a living Presence of G-d Almighty, in the old days, was to trek up the mountain to the Beis HaMikdosh in Jerusalem. And there he’d catch sight of the holy processional of the Cohanim and the Levim in all their splendor; take a deep, deep whiff of the incense burning; listen closely to the music. That’s all a Jew had to do to reignite his or Jewish heart.
But now we have to fend for ourselves to fill that gap. We certainly have our holy Torah and our teachers, our inspiring memories, as well as visions of a Jewish future awash with regained holiness and purity. But it’s hard— very hard.
In fact, we’re like kids suddenly and tragically orphaned (G-d forbid), who must unexpectedly fight our own battles, explain things to ourselves, and mourn for the dead at one and the same time…
See link for full article. It really ‘brings home’ the feelings of suffering and losing the Beis hamikdosh in a relatable and real way. Sometimes you read something like “I hear it..”. This was one of those for me so I’d say worth the full read.
I have two prayers for this Tisha B’Av season: May G-d, the Ribbono Shel Olam, inspire us this year to not only mourn for our own losses, but to be there for others in their pain and sorrow.
And may we never know of loss again.
Don’t forget, the Nine Days start tonight.
I finished my dvar Torah (dvar haftorah) on teshuvah!!
In this week’s haftorah, Yirmiyahu perek bet, there is a pasuk (22) reading “Though you wash with natron, and use much lye, your guilt is ingrained before me”. This seems to introduces a troubling idea: that G-d sometimes does not accept teshuva.
In fact, this pasuk is used in the story of Elisha ben Avuyah haAcher; after he loses his faith, his student Rabbi Meir persuades him to go round schools asking children to recite verses, in the hopes that they will make Acher do teshuva: instead, HaShem makes all the children say verses with themes of lasting sin or rejection of teshuva, and this is one of them.
This idea seems incongruous with the G-d we daven to; in the Amidah, in fact, we say of G-d haratze biteshuva, You desire teshuva. So why is the teshuva of israel not accepted? It’s not that Israel’s repentance is insincere, certainly – lye is a very harsh chemical & can cause burns, and the general image of trying to wash away sin evokes a mad Lady Macbeth; it’s very clear that Israel wants to be cleansed and free of sin, so why won’t HaShem accept the teshuva?
The answer is that, like the Shakespearean heroine, whilst they regret their sin and its punishment they have not done teshuva. Just as Lady Macbeth never confesses or makes any attempt to atone, even though she is literally driven mad by guilt, Israel are going about repentance in completely the wrong way. After you sin, HaShem doesn’t want you to sit and cry and pity or hate yourself; HaShem wants you to get up and try to mend it, and resolve to do better next time.
The way this is shown in this Haftorah is through repeated images of G-d as water; in verse 13, when G-d self-identifies as “מְקוֹר מַיִם חַיִּים (the Fount of living waters)”. Israel were self-afflicting with the caustic lye, not self-cleansing with the living waters.
As the Nine Days approach, may all our teshuva be accepted by G-d and in its merit may the Temple soon be rebuilt.
Seeing the Good in Others -
Discover how to see past the negativity that divides us, straight through to the innate goodness that makes each of us a beloved child in Hashem’s eyes.
We see ourselves as shrewd judges of others characters - but when we zero in on their deficiencies - we miss all the good.
Very important and powerful two minute video from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.
Rabbanit Mizrachi was at a women’s convention last week. On the stage was a group called “Playback”. They asked members of the audience to share stories which they would then act out. One young woman got up.
This is her story:
“I work as a resource room teacher with children who have learning disabilities. A few years ago a young boy began taking lessons in my resource room. I could not figure out what had brought him to seek my help. He clearly had no difficulty with his lessons and did well on all his tests. Yet, time after time he consistently came to my resource room for his lessons.
I was determined to find his area of weakness but, as hard as I tried, I could not find any type of learning disability or difficulty. Finally, out of frustration, I took him aside and told him I could not continue giving him lessons. It was a waste of his time and his parents hard earned money and he clearly did not need any sort of remedial help.
The boy turned to me and said, “I will tell you why I am here but I am asking you not to tell anyone else. I have a friend with a learning disability. Our teacher told him that he needed remedial classes in the resource room. He was so embarrassed to be singled out as having to go to your classes. I told him that it was no big deal and that I also take remedial classes. That is why I come to you- so that my friend will not be embarrassed”.
The boy who came to my class so as not to embarrass his friend was Gilad Shaar הי”ד. He was 10 years old at the time.
As we enter the difficult period of the Three Weeks, let us be inspired by Gilad and the other pure neshamos to look at those around us with an Ayin Tova [good eye]- to go out of our “comfort zone” to help others and to give that little extra of ourselves to bring joy to our fellow Jews.
With the fast just behind us we have entered the Bein HaMetzarim, the three week mourning period. During these three weeks beginning with the 17th of Tammuz, and until after Tisha B’Av we behave with minhogim of mourning for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, becoming progressively stricter on Rosh Chodesh Av (beginning the 9 days) and the week within which Tisha B’Av falls. Shulchan Aruch w/Mishna Berura 551
During the entire three week period we do not make weddings, listen to music, dance, take haircuts/shave, wear new clothing or eat a new fruit which would require a Brocho of Shehechiyanu (except on Shabbos). Shulchan Aruch w/Mishna Berura 551:1,2
Since these weeks always fall in the middle of the summer in most parts of the world once should have in mind that we are in a mourning period, even during our summer vacations. During the three weeks one should refrain from going to any dangerous places, (e.g. swimming in an ocean or river) and certainly one should be extra careful during the 9 days from Rosh Chodesh Av until after Tisha B’Av, (because one’s mazzel is weak during this period). Piskei Tshuvos 551:1,46
However, from the 17th of Tammuz until Rosh Chodesh Av one is permitted to swim (in a pool), even for one who has not gone swimming yet this Summer season. Tshuvos V’Hanhagos 2:263, Piskei Tshuvos 551:46
“In Their Merit” is a campaign established under the guidance of Rav Yitzchok Dovid Grossman, Chief Rabbi of Migdal Emek, to bring the Jewish People together by learning the Torah of Unity and Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself, in the merit of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaar, may they rest in peace.
Short emails will be sent each day in which you will receive insight and inspiration about developing unity and love for our fellow Jews, in their merit.
Go to the link to sign up. Come on-who doesn’t have five minutes in their day to learn about ahavas yisroel?
Today was the yohrzeit of Rabbi Chaim Ibn Atar, the Ohr HaChaim Hakodosh. The Orach HaChaim HaKodosh was a big tzadik who was originally born in Meknes, Morocco. He later moved to Eretz Yisroel.
He is the author of the famous commentary on the Torah called ‘Ohr HaChayim’. The Ohr HaChaim was a big mekubal and knew many of the secrets of the Holy Torah. So much that the Heiliger Rizhiner said about his sefer “it is the first chassidishe sefer”. Until this day his sefer is widely popular and studied daily by the chassidim.
During the Second World War when the Nazis were about to invade Eretz Yisroel the Jewish community here held a yom tefilah (day of prayer) at the grave of the Ohr HaChaim. At this prayer gathering were reb Shlomke Zhviller, the Toldos Aharon rebbe, Gerrer Rebbe, the Husyatiner, a few other tzadikim and about 20.000 other religious Jews.
Afterwards reb Shlomo Schreiber*, a Husyatiner hasid, went over to his rebbe and told him he was still scared the Nazis y”s would invade. The Husyatiner rebbe then told him not to worry. “They will not come to Eretz Yisroel.”
"How does the Rebbe know?" the hasid wanted to know.
"Because during the tefilos I saw the Shem HaVaya [G-d’s four lettered name] in gold and perfectly lined up above the Ohr HaChaim’s tziyun. Hashem’s name represents rachamim [mercy].”
And so it was indeed. The Nazis did not enter Eretz Yisroel.
May the Ohr HaChaim Hakodosh’s merit protect us during the ongoing war as well.
Zechuso Yogein Oleinu.
* I personally heard this story from Reb Shlomo’s grandson.
Events currently unfolding in Eretz Yisroel demand our tefillos on behalf of all our fellow Jews who are privileged to live on holy soil. Our rabbinic leadership has asked us to convey that simple, stark but urgent message to all of our constituents and supporters, indeed to all caring Jews.
As has been the practice in many shuls over past years, in response to the call of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, the recitation of Tehillim (Psalms) 83, 130 and 142 after Shacharis, followed by the tefila of Acheinu, is recommended. Indeed, our every prayer should include entreaties on behalf of our fellow Jews in Eretz Yisroel.
May our tefillos be received in mercy by Hakodosh Boroch Hu, and help usher in days of peace and security.