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MIXED EMOTIONS by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"When the month of Ab arrives, one must reduce his rejoicing." (Talmud Babli - Ta'anit 26b)

As we approach Tish'ah B'Ab we are obligated to observe a number of unusual laws. These laws are geared to invoke in us a feeling of sadness. We don't eat meat or drink wine for nine days. We don't purchase or wear any new clothes for nine days. We are not permitted to wear any freshly laundered clothing in the week that Tish'ah B'Ab falls in. This year, it is Sunday through Tuesday, August 10-12. Even taking a pleasurable shower and shaving are prohibited during those three days. It is truly a somber time for our people.

Rabbi Isaac Sher z"l explains that on one hand we should feel closer to Hashem during these days. During these days all of our nation's tragedies occurred. Tish'ah B'Ab is Holocaust Memorial Day, because the Holocaust is a result of the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash. So why feel closer to Hashem? Because we know that Hashem did these things to us because of His love for us, to improve us, which will ultimately result in His bringing us back to Him.

On the other hand, we must feel sorrow for the disgrace of Hashem in the eyes of the world. King David, in Tehillim, expressed this feeling perfectly in Psalm 42:11, "Like a sword in my bones are the taunts of my tormentors when they revile me all day long (by saying) 'Where is your G-d?'" King David felt as if he was being killed when the world taunted him saying "Where is your G-d?" We should feel the same when the actions of the Jewish people cause Hashem to go into hiding prompting the nations to say "Where is your G-d?"

If we feel like a child who was expelled from his father's house, and if we feel Hashem hears our crying, then for sure Hashem will have mercy on us. All we need to do is to let Hashem know that from the bottom of our hearts, we want to come back home. Shabbat Shalom.


"How can I alone carry your contentiousness, your burdens and your quarrels?" (Debarim 1:12)

The Midrash in Eichah distinguishes the context of Moshe's use of the word "eichah" from the ways in which Yeshayahu and Yirmiyahu the prophets used the same word. Moshe was lamenting his obligation to deal personally with B'nei Yisrael's petty complaints. On the other hand, Yeshayahu lamented Israel's unfaithfulness to Hashem. "How (eichah) had the faithful city become like a harlot," he cried out. Yirmiyahu, who saw their humiliation and destruction, cried out, "Eichah yashbah badad - Alas, she (Israel) sits in solitude." The commentators differentiate among these three eichahs as referring to distinct stages of Klal Yisrael's iniquity.

Harav Ze'ev Weinberger adds an interesting thought. The three laments focus upon when the people realized that Israel was in "trouble." Yirmiyahu acknowledged it only when he saw the actual destruction. Yeshayahu was able to recognize the dangerous route on which they were traveling much earlier. He noted when B'nei Yisrael acted like a harlot, when they sought the approval of the gentile nations who surrounded them. Indeed, when they wanted to be like the pagans, then Yeshayahu grieved. He saw where the gradual assimilation was heading. One cannot be a Jew and act and live like a gentile. One cannot have one foot in shul and the other in a pagan house of worship.

It was Moshe Rabenu, the father of all prophets who predicted the downfall. As soon as the people clamored for intermediaries, officers for tens and officers for hundreds and thousands, he sensed a slow departure from tradition. He knew what had motivated their request. He saw the beginning of a digression which would ultimately lead to the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash.

It is important to note every change in our own behavior and attitude. The slightest deviation from the path of truth results in an insurmountable chasm that will ultimately devastate our spiritual well-being. (Peninim on the Torah)

Pop quiz: What king did Hashem tell Moshe not to fear?
Answer to pop quiz:Og, king of Bashan.

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