On Tuesday, August 5th, the Jewish people worldwide will be commemorating the tragic 'holiday' called Tisha Bav. On Tisha Bav both of our Holy Temples were destroyed, and the Jewish people were cast into a painful, and brutal exile. We fast, sit on the floor as is the custom for mourners, recite kinnos (sad dirges memorializing the sad events of our past) refrain from washing our hands, marital relations, anointing ourselves, and we do not wear leather shoes. (For more specifics check out this link: http://www.aish.com/h/9av/oal/48944076.html?s=mpw)
It is meant to be a very painful day; yet for most of us, as a result of never having lived with the Holy Temples, we fail to grasp what exactly it is that we are mourning; what exactly is that we have lost. Yet our rabbis tells us that every difficulty in our lives, and every tragedy we face is connected to the fact that we do not have our Beis Hamikdash, our Holy Temple. I heard a beautiful analogy to our present situation: If a person is on life support after narrowly surviving a dangerous accident, from his own internal perspective, he might be grateful for still being alive. However to everyone looking in, they feel sorry for him, because they understand that he is not in fact really living. Living on a machine is no way to live. So too, our own state, without the Holy Temple, is analogous to living on life support-- we don't realize how much we are lacking; how much we are missing; and how this situation we call life is not what is ultimately the state in which we are meant to be living. Without our Beis Hamikdash, we are at a loss, and our existence is on a tremendously lower level than what it is meant to be.
I heard a beautiful idea from a great Rabbi named Rabbi Shimshon Pincus. Rabbi Pincus said that the way to 'celebrate' and observe Tisha Bav is to feel the pain of Tisha Bav-- the pain of being in exile, and the pain, kabbalistically of the Almighty being in exile. It is to understand that every stress, difficulty, tragedy and devastation in life is linked to the fact we don't have our Temple. Therefore, our job is to figure out how to feel that pain-- and if the Jewish people could collectively fill up a bottle of tears from crying on Tisha Bav, the Messiah would come. The Talmud in Tractate Shabbos says beautifully "Anyone who sheds a tear for an upright person, the Holy One, Blessed is He counts them and places them in His storehouse. "
Our tears our precious to the Almighty. Our job on Tisha Bav is to cry our eyes out. Sometimes, this is hard. Tragically, this year, it is not hard. Therefore, I have prepared below a reading list for articles you can read to cry, and understand how much we are missing by not having the Beis Hamikdash. On Tuesday, go to your room, close the door, open up your computer or iphone, and observe this powerful day by reading these articles.
1. In this article read about the widow of a soldier who gave birth 10 days after he was killed. Think about this man who never will meet his child-- and the child who will grow up never having seen her father.
2. In these articles, reflect on the infectious smile of Hadar Goldin, the young man who was engaged to be married in a few weeks. Reflect on the words of his fiance, "the hero of Israel, I love you and miss you. I'm waiting for you so we can dance at our wedding soon."
At his funeral she said, "“I though we would be together forever,” she says. “I love you so much, and I miss you so much. I so wanted to be your bride, Hadar,”
3. Read here about two American boys, who could have been any of our close friends, who moved to Israel to serve in the IDF. One of them moved to Israel after being inspired on Birthright. The other one spent some time learning about Judaism at Aish.
Think about the potential they had, and the pain of their famies.
4. Read this article from Newsweek, which featured on its front cover how Jews are fleeing from Europe. Reflect on the fact that it is not 1938, but 2014.
5. Read about how #Hitlerwasright was trending. Again, it is 2014.
6. Read about and remember the Fogel Family, murdered in their sleep by terrorists 3 years ago. Think about the three surviving children, who are being raised without parents.
Watch this video memorializing them:
7. Read a eulogy about the three Israeli boys, kidnapped and murdered for being Jewish.
8. Read the second letter here, from Rabbi Eisenmann about this situation
9. Read this article about Nava Applebaum, murdered a day before her wedding because she was Jewish.
10. Read about Mrs. Sandler, whose husband and 2 children were murdered in France for being Jewish and teaching Torah.
11. Read about my heroes Chabad Rabbi and Rebbetzin Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, murdered spreading Torah, serving the Jewish community of Mumbai India, for being Jewish. Read about their son screaming "mommy, mommy" at their funerals.
Reflect more on their holy lives here: http://www.chabad.org/generic_cdo/aid/774747/jewish/Legacy-of-Mumbai.htm
Let us read these articles, and cry bitter tears.
The Almighty should indeed collect our tears, and transform them to tears of joy.
May the prophetic words of King David come true speedily and soon:
"When the Lord brought out Zion of captivity, we were like people in a dream. At that time our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with cries of joy...Let our captivity, Lord, be a thing of the past, like dried up streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears shall reap in joy."