Tisha B'Av - Vaeschanan-Nachamu: “Tisha B’Av Take-Out”
“Tisha Bav Take-Out”. Oops. That was sort of a Freudian slip. No restaurants I know of serve kosher take-out on Tisha Bav. But-after making it through the saddest day on our calendar, what CAN we take home? The best way to answer this is to share my new Tisha Bav Chiddush with you. This idea sprouted after I was reminding someone about the obligation to fast for 25 hours. I shared with him the the Gemara that in so many words says:
“Whoever mourns the loss of Jerusalem on the 9th of AV merits and sees its ultimate rejoicing, and whoever fails to mourn over Jerusalem does not see its ultimate rejoicing”.
Even though my friend, the “reluctant faster” shared his agnosticism about Mashiach and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, I persisted: “even if you believe there may never be a “third temple”, why take a gamble on such a big issue? Why not fast for one day just in case you’re wrong? Do you want to take a chance on such a serious thing and be sidelined at the most joyous point of our history just because you couldn’t resist food and drink for one day?
The Yiddishe “guilt trip” worked. Our friend fasted. But the conversation left me wondering how such a harsh, draconian “punishment” seems to be meted out to the one who fails to perfectly observe the Tisha Bav rules. Almost cruel and unusual. True, we should mourn the destruction and exile, but totally cutting someone out of our literal Jewish destiny because of a difficulty with mourning over something that one has not even experienced and that has been gone for so long seems a bit much, no?
Then I paid more attention to the words of our Rabbis. The Talmud talks in present tense. The Gemara does not say that a non-mourner will not merit In the FUTURE to see the rebuilding of Jerusalem. What It actually says is that one who fails to mourn and cry over the destroyed temple does not SEE it in its glory. “See”-in the present tense, as in NOW. In other words: if you mourn over Jerusalem, you SEE Jerusalem. Today. Now. If you don’t, or you can’t, you clearly don’t have a true vision of what a redeemed Jerusalem is, you don’t SEE It today. You can’t mourn what you don’t see and don’t know.
Our observance of Tisha Bav and the feelings of loss over it are directly related what kind of picture we have, if any, of the object of our mourning. Can we truly cry and mourn over someone who died “(Lo Aleinu”) if we have no idea who they were, and have no comprehension of their meaning to others, to the world, to us?
Our level of sadness on a day like Tisha Bav is a test of our knowledge, recognition and comprehension of what Jerusalem, Israel, a Jewish Homeland where the Torah’s blessings of peace, tranquility physical and spiritual bliss is like as a reality.
If we can’t bring ourselves to live “without” for one day in remembrance of Yerushalayim, or if we do follow the rules but can’t really muster a real tear over our exiled predicament, our Rabbis aren’t trying to scare us with “punishments”. They are telling us: “You should learn more about Jerusalem, about the Beit Hamikdash, about what it was like living a holy life in a holy land surrounded by Hashem’s miraculous and constant presence, when we experienced true unity with all of our brothers and sisters and real peace with our neighbors over the globe. Fill your mental “picture library” with images of the glorious periods of Jewish life over the millennia when we lived as a proud, honored and happy people. Educate yourselves so that you DO know “who died”. If you do so, if you see it all NOW, well then you’ll have no problem recognizing Mashiach when he knocks on your door…
As we enjoy this Shabbat and read tomorrow about Moshe begging G-d to let him enter the land of Israel with all of us, let us do all we can to find out what that a real Jerusalem and Israel of the future looks like and means to all of us-so that in the upcoming days it will be US leading the way to Yerushalayim!