Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Last One

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

Every year of golus brings us one year closer to geulah. There is a limit to how much we can take. There is a limit to how long we have to stay away from our home. And that limit is rapidly approaching. Each year that we are kept away from the Bais Hamikdosh forces us to slide further away from our core of kedushah.

There are chato’im which we must remedy before we can merit to have the Bais Hamikdosh returned. The recent awakening of achdus in our world would seem to indicate that we have learned the lessons and are doing what we can to prepare ourselves for the final redemption.

One just had to attend one of the recent rallies for Sholom Mordechai ben Rivka to have seen an indication of the wonderful spirit of achdus which has overtaken us. How comforting it has been to see how Jews of all stripes can come together on behalf of a Jew they don't know.

We have many problems, but there is more Torah being learned than ever before. There is a tremendous amount of tzedakah in our world. We support organizations which purvey so much chesed, helping all types of Jews in myriad ways. One has to reach back a long time to identify as much ahavas chesed as we find today.

This Shabbos, we read the comforting words of Yeshayahu Hanovi, “Nachamu nachamu ami,” and become transformed.

The novi speaks to us and he says, “Nachamu, the sadness will soon end. Nachamu, the golus is almost over. Nachamu, accept consolation over the past. Nachamu, a bright new day is dawning.”

Since the Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed, our people have endured much tragedy. Tisha B’Av is the repository of 1,900 years of Jewish pain and suffering. It is the day on which we mourn for all that was and now isn’t, for all that wasn’t and we wish was. It is the national Jewish day of mourning for all the sadness we have endured throughout the ages.

When we sat on the floor saying the Kinnos, we mourned the churban of the Botei Mikdosh, as well as the calamities that befell the Jewish communities of Europe one thousand years later during the First Crusade. We remembered the Jews who were ripped apart during the Inquisition, the gezeiros of Tach V’Tat, and the expulsion from Spain in 1492. We were reminded of the seforim that were burnt in Paris in 1242. As we said the Kinnos, we gained a new perspective of Jewish life and suffering. Kinah after Kinah filled us with so much sadness, it seems surreal that one people can bear so much.

We mourned the millions who were killed and maimed physically and mentally during the harrowing century that just ended.

And then we finished the Kinnos, chanted Eli Tziyon, got up off the floor, straightened out the chairs, and returned to our homes. We read about the churban a little more and waited for the fast to end.

Last week was Shabbos Chazon and this week is Shabbos Nachamu. That’s the recurring cycle of our existence. We never sink into yi’ush, despair. We never give up hope. One day we can be deep down in the dumps and the next day we can be sitting on top of the world. History has shown that pain and tragedy often give birth to nechamos.

Perhaps the minhag to say Kiddush Levana for Chodesh Av on Motzoei Tisha B’Av codified by the Rama (Orach Chaim, 551:8) can be seen as a message from which we can take consolation.Tisha B’Av commemorates all the tribulations that befell our people through the centuries. Recounting all the misery we have suffered can bring a Jew to melancholy and despair. To counteract that response, as soon as the fast is over, we venture outside and remind ourselves that Am Yisroel is compared to the levanah. Just as the moon shrinks and disappears from view only to regain its full size and completeness, so too Am Yisroel. Though its suffering causes it to diminish and wither, it revives and waxes strong and whole once again.
Though we mourn the churban all year, the mourning increases during the Three Weeks and then even more so in the Nine Days, finally peaking on Tisha B’Av, but when the period of mourning is over, we are not to linger in our sorrow.

The Gemara in Maseches Bava Basra (60b) recounts that at the time of the churban, there were perushim who stopped eating meat and drinking wine. Rabi Yehoshua discussed their custom with them and convinced them to stop their practice because the halacha sets limitations to the mitzvah of aveilus.
The Gemara in Maseches Moed Koton (27b) expounds on the posuk in Yirmiyahu 22 which states, “Al tivku lemais, ve’al tanudu lo.” The Gemara says that one should not cry over a death for more than three days. Mourning has a prescribed limit and the Gemara discusses severe consequences that can result from excessive mourning.
The same holds true for the aveilus of this mourning period we have just concluded. Once the period of time Chazal designated for this extreme form of aveilus for the churbanos has passed, we are to learn the lesson of the levanah and the immortal call of “Nachamu namchamu” of Yeshayahu Hanovi.
Shabbos Nachamu proclaims that this year we observed the final Tisha B’Av. It says, “Seek comfort, for that awful day will never again be repeated.” The day of Tisha B’Av will no longer symbolize sadness and grief. Next year, Tisha B’Av will be a holiday.
All those through the ages who have suffered for being Jewish, who were burned at the stake, whose blood flowed at Beitar, and who were sent into exile by the Romans, the English, the French, and the Spanish will finally see justice.
All those who were tortured and killed, who were physically and mentally battered by the Germans, who were murdered in their prime, or who died as elderly, good, ehrliche Jews - all of them will gather together in Yerushalayim.
The stanza we sing every week in Lecha Dodi, “Hinsa’ari m’afar, kumi,” based upon the words of the novi Yeshayahu [Yeshayahu 52], will be realized. We will shake the dust off, arise and cover ourselves with the clothing of splendor, when Moshiach appears speedily in our day.

Shabbos Nachamu says that next year on Tisha B’Av, we will all be in Yerushalayim and we will all be singing and dancing. We will all be healed, and suffering will come to an end. There will be no more Kinnos and no need for those uncomfortable little benches. There will be no more sadness and no more pain. The enemies who wreaked such havoc and caused such anguish will meet their downfall and be obliterated.
Not only will swords be beaten into plowshares, but tears will turn into smiles, pained features will come alive with happiness, the sad will be festive, and the mournful will be joyous.This will have been the last Tisha B’Av in golus. The last time Kinnos were said. The last time the whole community sat in semi-darkness on the floor, shoeless, chair-less and clueless. Nachamu nachamu ami. Amein.


Post a Comment

<< Home