How An Adam Gadol Approaches Tisha B’Av

The Nesivos Shalom in his first piece on the Three Weeks demonstrates how Tisha B’Av is ironically the most important day of the year in rebuilding the Beis HaMikdosh, not just mourning its loss. Tisha B’Av heightens the longing that we feel for the loss of the Presence of Hashem made manifest in our world. That longing, that spiritual void that we feel within us, is the very cement for the bricks of the next Temple. 

The following account of Rav Hershel Schachter’s approach to Tisha B’Av should help us get there. (Taken from the FB page of R Efrem Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue.)

Got this amazing text from my friend R’ Shay Schachter last night about his father, my Rebbe Shlit”a (sharing with his permission):

“Just got off the phone with my father. I started to ask him a number of questions about the nine days that people asked me in Shul over the past few days. He began crying uncontrollably on the phone and said “Shay, I really can’t answer these shailos, I really don’t know the dinnim; every year I hold myself back from learning the halachos of Tisha B’av, I really thought we would have a beis hamikdash this year. I can’t bring myself to learn it too much in advance of Tisha B’av.”

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8 Responses

  1. Yossie Nemes says:

    Very inspiring and humbling. Tzipisa L’yeshuah in its purest form…

  2. Nachum says:

    There’s one quibble I have with people who say things like, “If the Beit HaMikdash isn’t rebuilt before then”: It took Shlomo four years to build the Mikdash (after years of planning and preparation by David). It took the returnees from Bavel about twenty years to get past political issues and even then the building wasn’t really finished for many centuries. What makes us think it will take any faster- and is that belief what, ironically, keeps it from being built at all? Perhaps belief in a supernatural construction process or in “Mashiach taking care of it” is a convenient way for us to avoid doing anything.

    R’ Schachter himself is know for saying that we’ve been in galut for 2,000 years, so it will take another 2,000 years to get out. It’s not easy, and we shouldn’t expect it to be.

    • See the Meiri on the gemara that the third bayis will descend from Heaven. He sees this metaphorically – that the political stumbling blocks in the way of such a project make it successful accomplishment no less miraculous than if it descended fully through the clouds. I imagine that finding contractors who can finish the job on schedule would be part and parcel of the same miracle

      • Nachum says:

        Of course, he’s not the only one to say that, and there are those who do, indeed, take it literally. But the fact remains that it’s still an actual mitzvah to build the Mikdash, which means that we have to build it. And there’s nothing wrong with our trying to remove both political and practical stumbling blocks- we don’t rely on miracles, after all.

        Faced with opposition, the Jews of the Second Mikdash dithered until they were told to start; they then took successful political steps as well. Granted, they had the encouragement of actual neviim- the last ones- but that’s not necessarily a requirement. Nevuah today is given to children and crazy people; I’m sure you can find plenty of kids and “mishegoyim” to encourage you.

  3. dr. bill says:

    i believe that the binary approach to the arrival of the moshiach is missing a major difference between Jewish and Greek thinking, a concept i first heard over 50 years ago from RAL ztl.  he talked about a directed versus circular view of history, the former being the Jewish conception and the latter Greek.  there are many challenges (textual and philosophical) to this approach, but that is not where i want to concentrate.  i look at the world in macro terms to see whether  we are heading towards the days of the moshiach or are we going in the other direction.  yes the messiah can come (miraculously, I suspect) to a world entirely corrupt, but i always want to hope that he comes as the culmination of human progress.  towards that hope this last year (and many others) has been depressing on many levels, with only a few glimmers of light shining through.

    • Steve brizel says:

      Actually in one of RYBSs shiurim on the Musaf of RH RYBS pointed out that the Tefilah incorporated both of the possibilities- namely a world that was either ready for Kabalas malchus HaShem or one which was so desperate for malchus HaShem that the same would have to be accepted.

  4. david z says:

    I wish I knew how to handle this issue. We scoff at people who set times for the messiah. So how do we really believe he was going to come this year as opposed to others future or past? Wouldn’t we hope now is the time but prepare as if it isn’t? Rav shechter didn’t sell everything and move to Israel? And I don’t mean to pick on him. He is greater than I in every way (except maybe height). But I don’t understand how this is the mindset we should have or what it even means. And apparently his son was unaware of this response as well…

    • dr. bill says:

      I am even shorter than even rav shechter but I think I can help.  As moshe halbertal (quoting someone whose name escapes me) once explained when discussing the meaning of belief, if you really believe in something you make significant largely irreversible decisions based on that belief.  In that sense, as you observe, none (at least very few) of us really demonstrate a belief in the immediacy of the coming of Messiah.  However, in a small way, finding something else to learn throughout the year avoids implying a belief to the contrary.  It is not a real demonstration of belief, but a statement that we do want to exhibit the disbelief that learning the halakhos of the nine days implicitly suggests.

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