TISHA B'AV

Tisha B’Av

Children I Have Raised…But They Rebelled Against Me

These days we grieve over the Beis Hamikdosh and the bitter Galus which has lasted so long, and observe the pertinent laws of mourning. Amidst this oppressive darkness, dreadful occurrences which are even worse than in the Tochachah in Parshas Ki Savo, have taken place—occurrences of which it is said: “You shall lose your minds from the sights your eyes shall see.“ The very sword which the prophets say is meant to avenge our enemies, has turned against us in the form of sharp rebukes and has plunged into our bleeding a pained hearts.

During these days, when we observe mourning customs and refrain from worldly pleasures, we must recall the low state which Am Yisroel has reached during this Galus in which the darkness is growing denser by the moment and during which tragedies strike one after another in severe forms. Within the darkness of this Galus, we lost tzaddikim and kedoshim who illuminated the entire world, and small children who have never sinned. How can we continue our regular lives when we are inundated by such difficult tidings? Why is this happening to us?

At such a time, we must not only think of ourselves, but also about the sorrow of the Shechinah Hakedosha which is in Galus and which waits to return to Am Yisroel with great mercy, but we are still so far from achieving this.
However, amidst the Galus, and all of the mourning, including the overall mourning of Am Yisroel over the Destruction, there is a time, in which we cast off the dust, as we do declare in the Kabbolas Shabbos prayer:

“Hisna‘ari mai‘afor kumi—Shake off the dust, rise up. Don your clothing of splendor, My People.“ When Shabbos begins, there is no room for mourning. This is so even on Shabbos Chazon, the Shabbos before Tisha b‘Av, the Shabbos which is in the height of the Nine Days, the Shabbos on which we read the rebuke of Yeshayahu the prophet which shakes all: “Banim gidalti ve‘romamti ve‘haim pash‘u Bi—Children have I raised and exalted, but they rebelled against me… Hear the word of Hashem, O chiefs of Sodom; give ear to the teaching of our G-d, O people of Amora…Wash yourselves; purify yourselves; remove the evil of your deeds from before My eyes; cease doing evil.“ Despite reading those rebukes, we still don‘t display any sign of mourning on Shabbos.

When Shabbos nears, we bathe in its honor. Although according to Ashkenazi customs, on erev Shabbos Chazon, it is forbidden to bathe the same way as erev Shabbos, yet we still bathe as much as the halacha obligates. We also don clean and laundered clothing in honor of Shabbos Chazon. Even according to ancient Ashkenazi customs that on Shabbos Chazon Jews did not wear regular Shabbos clothing, but rather clean and laundered clothing, unlike during the weekdays of the Nine Days. In recent generations most Ashkenazi Jews throughout the world don Shabbos clothing just like every Shabbos. Shabbos we eat meat and drink wine, sing zemiros and maintain oneg Shabbos.

When Shabbos arrives, every Jew, no matter how low his situation, must rise up and for a moment forget all of his woes. He must recall that Shabbos has the power to instill unsurpassed joy, and that we are forbidden to cry or be sad, because Shabbos itself heals all pain and eases all heartache. It is a source of inspiration and comfort, a source of looking forward to the World which is completely Shabbos, to a loftier and more exalted World. Even in our oppressed and difficult situation, Shabbos uplifts, strengthens and encourages.

Let us grasp the kedusha of the Shabbos and with it rise up until we merit the fulfilling the prophecy of the conclusion of the Haftorah:“Therefore—the word of the L-rd, Hashem, Master of the Legions, Mighty One of Israel: Oh, I shall be relieved of My adversaries, and I shall revenge Myself of My enemies! I will turn My hand against you, until I refine your dross as with lye and I remove all your base metal. Then I will restore your judges as at first, and your counselors as at the beginning; after that you will be called, ‘City of Righteousness‘, ‘Faithful City‘. Zion will be redeemed through justice, and those who return to her through Righteousness; but calamity [awaits] rebels and sinners together, and those who forsake Hashem will perish; for they will become ashamed of the idolatrous elms that you desired, and you will be embarrassed over the gardens that you chose. For you will be like an elm tree with withered leaves, and like a garden without water. The mighty will be like flax and its maker like a spark; and the two of them will burn together, with no one to extinguish it.“

(Yeshayahu 1:1-31)