Dvarim-Chazon: “Jews Just Wanna Have Fun”
We are in the thick of the “9 days”, those first 9 days of the month of AV, in which as part of our mourning for the loss of our Temple, OUR Jerusalem and our homeland we abstain from meat and wine at our non-Shabbat meals.
But yesterday I attended and thoroughly enjoyed a full blown meat and wine feast-and I don’t feel the slightest guilty! That is because I participated in a “Siyyum”, a meal that celebrates the completion of the study of a tractate, or book of the Talmud. Jewish Law has carved an exception for this type of celebration, which is called a “Seudas Mitzvah”, a “Mitzvah Party”, basically.
As I found out, I was not alone. An attendee last night told me that when he attended “Satmar camp”, a Chasidic summer camp in New York’s Catskills mountains, EVERY night of the 9 days another Siyyum took place, intentionally, so that every night was another Mitzvah party for all to attend!
I ask you: is this the way to mark the days designated for mourning our national loss of Holy Jerusalem-by seeking Talmudic loopholes where we don’t miss even one night of “steak and brandy”?
Then a light bulb in my head exploded with what must be the truth: The reason we lost our Temple and Beit Hamikdash is because we lost the joy, the Simcha, the bliss in our Jewish practice. The Temple was the embodiment of Simcha-when expereicned prooperly. Our Rabbis report that a person who did not merit to see the Temple in action really never experrienced the vision of what true Simcha and joy is!
Prior to the destruction, we may have kept all the rules… but the fire, the light, the simple happiness of living a pure and true life with the Torah as our guide was gone. We acted Jewish but we didn’t LOVE being Jewish, didn’t have FUN being Jewish. We didn’t have “Simcha Shel Mitzvah”, the ecstasy of a “a life where every day is like Shabbat”. And thus we lost that which represented the “greatest show on earth”-the Jerusalem Temple in its glory.
Thus rule our Rabbis: if you can spend these days of mourning over our loss of that temple reigniting the joy of a Mitzvah, reacquainting ourselves with how much pleasure our Mitzvot can bring us and showing our children how much our lives are enhanced by our heritage-well then we have shown that we truly understand what kind of beauty we lost in Jersusalem. We are not only ready for her to come back, but we have begun to rebuild her!
Friends, as we enter Shabbat, let us open or souls to experience the joy of Judaism, and done right, we might merit very soon, to participate in a “Siyyum” and conclusion to our Galut and exile and see the long overdue redemption speedily in our days.
Lchaim! And Shabbat Shalom