There are two categories of animals in your local zoo. Some were born in the wild, and were moved to the zoo. Others, however, were born in the zoo, and will remain in the zoo all of their lives. There is a great difference between these two kinds of animals. The animal born in his natural habitat knows what it means to be free, knows what it means to be his true self. He knows that he does not belong in the zoo--it is not his natural habitat. He knows that he can run 50 miles an hour on the open prairie, but cannot do this behind a fence or in a cage….The animal born in the zoo, however, simply does not know better. He gets his food from humans who have established his feeding times, and gets laughed at, stared at, and perhaps fed by spectators. He thinks that this is simply what his life is all about.
The Sefer Palgei Mayim, a classic commentary on Megillas Eicha, writes, that one of the three things Yirmiyahu laments over in Eicha (other than the Bais HaMikdash and Yerushalayim) is that Bnei Yisroel have lost their “Shefa Ruach HaKodesh”. We don’t even know what we are missing--we were born in Galus, and don’t know our true greatness. We are all capable of Ruach HaKodesh! We must recognize this Tisha B’Av that we need to quickly free ourselves from our current exile--it is simply not natural, it is shameful, it is a Chillul Hashem--as the spectators in the world around us think that they are feeding us, that they are sustaining us--as we are really kept prisoners away from our essence, from our true lives. Let us turn to Hashem, and let us ask that we be released, that we be set free…and that we return to our status of royalty, of a Mamleches Kohanim V’Goy Kadosh that is our true essence and being!
The Gemara (Megilla 21A) teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu would learn the more difficult laws and concepts of the Torah sitting down.
As we sadly noted last year, if we have to sit down this Tisha B’Av, we should take the time out to go over in our mind some of the difficult concepts that we tend to ignore, or at least avoid, during the rest of the year--the churbonos and the tzaros that have accompanied us through the ages and into our day.
Can we not shed a tear over:
· The pain of the Shechina over the chillul Hashem of the Galus (the Father’s pain is greater than the child’s)
· The void left by the Beis Hamikdosh that is not with us and the concomitant void of sanctity within us (we could be closer to angels, and not closer to animals)
· The honor of Klal Yisroel that has been cast to the ground and trampled upon
· The murder of an innocent Jewish child
· The murder of a Tzaddik who was giving Brachos
· The sorry hatred of secular Jews to Torah Jews
· The Goldbergs and Rosenblooms of the world who are not Jewish
· The hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews who have been numbed by Communism
· The Crusades
· The Pogroms
· The 1648-1649 Massacres
· The Holocaust
· The murder of the Fogel parents and children, the Mumbai Massacre, Sbarros bombing, the bombing of Bus Number 2, the Leil HaSeder Attack, the drive-by murders, the Mosad HaRav murders, the hundreds of other terrorist attacks, the murders and maimings, the mortars and bombs, the soldiers and the children all under attack
· All of the unnecessary sickness and suffering for 2000 years (multiplied by each second of pain)
· The desolation and ruination of the Har Habayis, Har Hazeisim, Chevron, Teveria…
· Sinas Chinam—smiling at the mishap of another, failing to properly rejoice at another’s simcha, and finding it hard to accept another’s honor and success
· The Jews who do not even know that Tisha B’Av exists--even if they live in New York City
· The Jews who know that Tisha B’Av exists and do not grow in their resolve to do something to end this Churban as soon as possible
The Navi (Yeshaya 1:3, which we read as part of last week’s Haftora) teaches “Ami Lo Hisbonan--My nation did not consider.”
Rashi adds that the people knew they were acting improperly but “tread with their heels” on this knowledge, and simply “did not take it to heart.”
We all know too well the desperate straits we are in at this time, in which we deal with the Churban of Eretz Yisroel and Yerushalayim--the defiling of a land and of a people on the one hand; and the turmoil in Eretz Yisroel today--upon which the nations of the world have heaped additional disgrace and scorn, on the other.
Haven’t we yet reached a point where we will, as the Navi asks, at least “consider”? It is not, it cannot, and should not, be beyond us to go off into a room--our bedroom, dining room, study, or even the floor somewhere, to sit down and cry: “Oh, what has befallen us! A nation in ruins, the holiest people on Earth berated by the lowest nations on Earth. What makes us better today than the captives of Judea taken by the Romans more than 1940 years ago. We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled by the amenities, luxuries, or even just the relative comfort in which we live. We have been in exile far too long, and the longer we are here, the worse off we are.
L’Maaseh, living with reality and practically speaking, we are walking about badly wounded in this bitter exile. Even in Eretz Yisroel itself, the very Holy Land , an estimated 40,000 Russian-manufactured missiles, many of which possess long-range capability, are said to be available in Lebanon alone (without even including what the murderers have in Gaza ).
We cannot be ashamed to cry. Ashamed?!--Why, and from whom?! Why can we not pour out our hearts to Hashem, as Yirmiyahu HaNavi cries out (Eicha 2:19) “Shifchi Kamayim Libeich--pour out your heart [to Hashem] like water.”
At least today, on the eve of Tisha B’Av, and no less certainly tomorrow itself, on the day of pain and mourning over the Chilul Hashem that exists in the world today, over Hashem’s pain which is infinitely greater than ours, over a world that has been lowered to the bottom of the bottom-most depths, over all the individual and communal pain and anguish, over these and much more, we must cry real, very real, tears.
Yirmiyahu HaNavi further teaches (31:14), “A voice is heard on high, lamentation, bitter weeping, Rochel weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children, for they are not.” On this Pasuk, the Mahari Kara (in the Mikraos Gedolos) writes that Rochel Imeinu represents K’lal Yisroel, and that our weeping in exile is heard by Hashem’s ears.
So, as much as we would not like to, we must cry--really cry. We must realize that we are in the nadir of our exile. The Tay-Sachs test, when originally developed, required a person to shed a tear, which was then tested. One had to think of something sad to shed that tear. Is it such a great challenge to cry unabashedly over an unfulfilled world, over the world’s most precious possessions disgraced and derided, over all the unnecessary anguish, unnecessary suffering, destruction, and death that we are currently experiencing?
If, for some reason you cannot cry--at least cry out--as our forefathers did in Mitzrayim. Remember, the gates of tears--and the gates of ruchniyus--are never closed. If we have to sit on the floor in a few hours, it should do more than cause us some temporary physical pain. Plead to Hashem as Dovid HaMelech does: “El Dimosi Al Techerash--Do not be silent to my tears!” (Tehillim 39:13) Hashem, I will not find comfort with the few pleasures I have when the Heavens and the Earth writhe in pain!
Please join with your brothers this Tisha B’Av, as our sincere tears and cries reach the Heavens.
May these tears and cries turn into overflowing sounds of salvation for each and every one of us, as we join together to witness the comforting of our people and the ultimate final and glee-filled redemption--speedily and in our days.
MAY WE BE ZOCHE TO NECHOMAS TZION VEYERUSHALAYIM THIS TISHA B’AV. ALL WHO MOURN OVER YERUSHALAYIM WILL BE ZOCHE TO SEE ITS REBUILDING!