Tisha B’Av – Back to Reality
Tisha B’Av is an extremely serious and somber day. It is also a day that we may hope to quickly move past and readily leave behind, as we continue with our summer plans and feel relieved that Tisha B’Av is over and did not get in the way of things too much. (“Now let’s get back to the barbecue…”)
If that is how we feel – even if we observe Tisha B’Av as well as the days leading up to it with perfect meticulousness – we have missed the boat. For Tisha B’Av is not merely a day to remember; it is, rather, a day to recalibrate and reorient ourselves and to return to reality.
As we go through life, we tend to forget that the current state of the Jewish People is not quite as was expected. We went from a people living in security and control, experiencing miracles and receiving divine communication, with the Shechinah in our midst and the Beis Ha-Mikdash serving as the repository of kedushah and the seat of the Sanhedrin, to a people suffering thousands of years of untold persecution and contempt through this very day, lacking any direct feedback or palpable guidance from our Creator, and living in a world in which “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” is the popular mantra of much of life. We occupy a reality devoid of holiness, rife with suffering, and so detached from the ideal such that we cannot even fathom. We know no other state of existence. God’s Name is desecrated in countless ways, His values are rejected and are subjected to mass distortion, and we, His Chosen People, are despised by so many and miserably fail to reflect our title and calling. And no matter how hard and how many times we may try to escape our fate and create a new image of ourselves, the notion (and very existence) of the Jew is abhorred and countenanced with vile repulsion throughout so much of the world. Of course, there are times of relative calm and prosperity, but they are sporadic and usually short-lived in the larger scheme of things.
This is the reality of several millennia. As much as we may attempt to delude ourselves and become preoccupied and distracted with all sorts of endeavors, movements and causes, and efforts to recreate ourselves, we cannot run away from the problem, and we must be honest and face the reality of the inescapable and persistent curse of Churban and Golus.
Tisha B’Av is the day that we acknowledge this reality. We are not allowed to take our minds off of it, we are not allowed to really go anywhere, and we cannot elude the situation and immerse ourselves in anything else. We are stuck confronting the pain, the destruction, the gap between us and Hashem and between us and the world, and recognizing how far removed we are from any semblance of Jewish life as it was meant to be. We cannot wish away the ugly and disturbing reality that lies beyond the daily diversions and buffers provided by intoxication with social media and entertainment, and even by the more important aspects of life. We must face the reality and accept it.
Let us take the reality of Tisha B’Av with us and apply it constantly in order to enhance our understanding of our national situation and existence, and to inspire us to return and yearn for life as Hashem meant it to be. Grasping Tisha B’Av and carrying it forward will condition us with a proper historical awareness and implant within us aspirations for the Geulah; disregarding the long-term significance of Tisha B’Av will leave us spiritually bankrupt and will sever us from our national destiny. Tisha B’Av is a crucial reality that we dare not forget.
Rav Soloveitchik zt”l, in the course of a spectacular shiur about Tisha B’Av, explained that unlike regular mourning, mourning for the Churban has no limit:
The Aveilus Yerushalayim is an endless gesture… The message of Eli Tziyon is thus that no matter how much we cry over Yerushalayim, no matter how concerned we are about the Churban, no matter how much we have expressed our grief over the bleak and dreary tragedy of our loss, nonetheless we remain inconsolable. We cannot adequately express our mourning and grief for the devastating loss…
We will never be satisfied until the Beis Ha-Mikdash is rebuilt…
The deeper rationale for this may very well be that the effects of the Churban are continuous and relentless. They are a long-term reality that must be lamented and mourned as long as they persist. To live as a Jew in post-Churban times means to be haunted with the unsettling awareness that our relationship with Hashem and our spiritual condition are acutely damaged, and to bear a seemingly endless burden of subjection to hatred, humiliation and oppression. Hence, the mourning is dynamic and ongoing, for such is the Churban itself.
Let us conclude with a quote from another shiur of Rav Soloveitchik:
As long as Eicha remains as inexplicable as it was during the dark nights of Hester Panim, as long as historical events have not been placed within the proper perspective, as long as we grope in the darkness of the prima facie nonsensical world and absurd situations, as long as people scoff at us because of our faith in the benevolence of the Almighty, as long as the riddle of Eicha is not unraveled, Tisha B’Av cannot be abandoned! As long as one Jew asks the question of Eicha, Tisha B’Av must be observed.
Tisha B’Av will be abandoned only after the question of Eicha will be answered. What was true in the era of the Bayis Sheni (the Second Temple) is certainly true today as well. Only after the Messiah arrives, only after God will reveal Himself to mankind, only after history will be placed within the proper perspective, only when God’s truth and justice will finally be acknowledged and man will live in peace, will Tisha B’Av be celebrated as a day of redemption and will become a holiday.
Is there a way to understand our continuing exile at this stage? Collectively, we’re supposed to reverse it by removing its original causes, but more and more of us worldwide aren’t even conscious of what a Jew is, much less what a Jew needs to do. How does the teshuvah of the serious Jews now inspire the others, who have left the fold, to do their own part?
Exile ended in Iyar 1948. Any Jew, anywhere in the world can go home. Exile now is a state of mind only, not a reality.
Did you eat the Korban Pesach this year?
Besides your question is irrelevant, unless you are linking exile to Temple worship only. I don’t.
How do you view the daily Amidah? It charts a path to our redemption. How many of the items can you check off now?
Certainly not to a lot of Yehudah vShomron even the State f Israel recognizes PA authority.
To Bob miller,
Most of them.
Anyone who thinks that the exile in ended in 1948, so that Yemenite children could get stolen from their parents and religious kids could have their peyos cut off by the welcoming government, has a very warped and misguided definition of redemption.
why are you worried about others we can affect only minimally?
if you understand this as a formula if A then B, i think you need to think again. chazal gave us their judgement of what we should focus on. for some of their statements, what they meant and why they chose those categories are difficult questions. sinat chinom makes sense to me; shelo barchu batorah techilah does not. i hope one day to understand; to date i am unable to discover what motivated that statement.
ki lo machshevosai machshevosaichem tells me not to even try to think in such cosmic terms.
I’ve never understood the claim that things were good when we had a bet hamikdash. First of all the claim about how good things were seem to all be about the first I’ve when there were open miracles. But there was never a time when bad things didn’t happen to good people. And unlike one rabbi here on kids angeles who talks about the urim vtumim every year. No. You could not ask the urim what school you’re learning disabled kid should go.
We are missing something big as a nation something that made us proud to be Jews but it was no panacea and things weren’t better just because it was in existence. I am open to guidance on this fundamental question.
About a week ago I heard a shiur by my Rabbi about the loss of Beis Hamikdash and how things were better. I asked we had about 1000 years of a Beis Hamikdash-between first and second-how many of them were good years? He came back with Shlomo and maybe Joshiyahu. Serious historical question how much impact BM had on average Jew-how many were Oleh leregel? Look at Har habayis-beishamikdash clearly smaller-how big a space for example kol ham bazaars on Yom Kippur. This is not to take away from the lack of a Beis Hamikdash theologically-but how much impact did it have on average Jew?
Maybe more than the impact of chages against Dr Shapiro. BTW I had trouble understanding the desire to attack him. I who do not know Dr Shapiro merely wrote how a talmid of the SE was impressed by the accuracy of the book on the SE -that unleashes charges that the book intends to revisionist in favor of a MO. It is much more likely that the constant attacks done to de legitimize MO by some attackers are a result of the old preachers notes on a sermon “week point yell like hell”
it is far more likely historically that the current so called Centrist regime to use Prof Brills terminology are engaging in a exercise of revisionism not only on the RAv but on SE. There was huge revisionism on SRH and also on RAv Kook. The revisionism is a challenge to Mesorah-we exist on an accurate menorah certainly one not changed to make all fit into standard constructs that fit everyone into current yeshiva world politics.
I specifically did not use the word “redemption”, which has, now at least, messianic connotations. I made no statement about Moshiach, nor the Temple, only about 1812 year exile from the land. As far as the Yemenite children are concerned, you seem to be getting your information from NK and Satmar. The “missing” 1000 Yemenite children has been thoroughly investigated. See the 7 year Government study report, for example. But if you want to read about bad behaviour after “redemptions” I suggest you read the Torah. And then Nach to see what happened when they finally entered the land and the history of the next 8 centuries until the Babylonian exile. Then read a decent history book, including the Talmud, about the next 500 years. It’s not pretty reading. Yes, I repeat, exile ended in 1948, and this may just be the best 7 decades we have ever had there. Open your eyes, and your heart.
As far as the Yemenite children are concerned, you seem to be getting your information from NK and Satmar. The “missing” 1000 Yemenite children has been thoroughly investigated. See the 7 year Government study report, for example.
Your information is wrong. There’s quite a hubbub in Israel right now over fully opening the classified files in that regard. MK Tzachi Hanegbi recently confirmed that the Yemenite children were kidnapped and their parents were told that they are dead.
But if you want to read about bad behaviour after “redemptions” I suggest you read the Torah. And then Nach to see what happened when they finally entered the land and the history of the next 8 centuries until the Babylonian exile. Then read a decent history book, including the Talmud, about the next 500 years. It’s not pretty reading. Yes, I repeat, exile ended in 1948, and this may just be the best 7 decades we have ever had there. Open your eyes, and your heart.
If your definition of exile is that any Jew who wants to can come live in Israel, that didn’t happen in 1948 – the Iron Curtain did not fall then. If your definition is that any Jew can come and live in Israel unmolested, that didn’t happen in 1948 either.