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Devarim: Tangible Destruction

Miriam Aflalo

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

And you murmured in your tents, and said: “Because Hashem hated us, He has brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.”

(Devarim 1:22, 27) 


“Since you cried for no reason, I will establish this day for crying for generations.”


On this day, the true state of our hearts was revealed; how much connection we had with the Ribono shel Olam and with each other. (Rav Shimshon Pincus, Galus U’Nechamah)


Tisha B’Av. It’s hot outside, and something’s stifling within. Something oppressive, heavy, knocking on the doors of our hearts.

Destruction. We try to sense it; we want to feel salty tears of distress; we wish to mourn. But it’s difficult.

It’s much easier to fry blintzes for Shavuos, to set a Seder table, or even to daven with concentration for the entire Yom Kippur.

To feel mourning, distress, burning pain — that’s very difficult.


On Yamim Tovim there’s nothing preventing our being happy, even if we are missing the connection with the Shechinah. But when it comes to Tisha B’Av and a Jew is told that he has to cry, he doesn’t even grasp what he’s supposed to cry about. (ibid.)

To mourn means to feel the Shechinah’s pain; to mourn means to sense the spiritual galus.

Fourteen million Jews are wandering, lost. Fourteen million souls who stood at Sinai and said, “We will do, and we will hear!” Fourteen million people who can’t even say Shema Yisrael, who don’t know their Father and don’t know how to turn to Him. Could there be a greater sorrow than this?

Fourteen million Jews. How many of them are wandering about the temples of idolatry without any knowledge of their heritage?

That’s destruction.

Millions of Jews who look exactly like their non-Jewish neighbors, eat in their restaurants, celebrate their holidays, start their year on January 1, having never heard of Rosh HaShanah.

Jews whose ancestors chose death rather than to transgress a Torah mitzvah, who took their children with them to the crematoria rather than leave them in a monastery. Yet today, their descendants aren’t Jewish, destroyed by assimilation.

Is there any greater sorrow than this?

Then there are the thousands of youths wandering among us, in our own neighborhoods, who were born into cribs lined with pictures of the gedolei Yisrael, who were carried with tearful prayers to cheder when they were three, who wore an embroidered yarmulke, and said sweet, wholehearted brachos. Children who could be sitting today, swaying in concentration, over a Gemara, children who could have a gleam of holiness in their eyes and the stamp of purity on their faces. That gleam is extinguished, gone. They have changed their garb and their language. They wander about our streets, lost. Their parents’ hearts are shattered. And their hearts are shattered as well.

It’s hard to think of those lost souls without having the tears come.


The task of this day is to allow the connection to Hashem to enter our hearts. Only in that way will we be able to feel the distress of the destruction and mourn over it properly.


Furthermore, we learn that: “On the day when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Beis HaMikdash, Mashiach was born.” Apparently, it’s not Pesach with all its miracles and not even Yom Kippur that can bring the Redemption. Only Tisha B’Av.


It’s comparable to a child begging his parents for a bike — to no avail. All his arguments and reasoning have no effect. Yet, when he starts crying, his parents capitulate and he receives his bike.


All our requests haven’t been effective. Only when Tisha B’Av arrives and a Jew cries, and says: “Hashem, I care about You, I care about my soul and about the lost souls of Your children!” only then does Hashem listen to the words flowing from our hearts. The Gate of Tears is never locked.


May Hashem help that we soon see the fulfillment of: “All who mourn for Jerusalem will merit to behold her rejoicing.” (ibid.)


We have never merited hearing the Leviim’s songs of longing, nor have we beheld the holiness of the Kohanim in their service. It’s difficult to yearn for the Beis HaMikdash in its glory. But it’s possible to cry over the destruction of all we had.

Today is Tisha B’Av, and we have no consolation.

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