Tishah B’Av

Tishah B’Av is the day when the two Batei Mikdash were destroyed, and so we set aside this day to mourn for them. The Rambam notes three other major tragedies that occurred on Tishah B’Av, making for a total of five major tragedies. The very first of these was the decree against the generation of the wilderness that they would not enter the Land of Israel. The scouts returned with a negative report, and the people cried. Hashem said (Sotah 35a): “You cried to Me for naught; I will designate for you a time of crying for all generations.”
The Maggid, in explaining Hashem’s words, identifies two types of crying. One is crying out of true distress, such as a destitute person who lacks food and proper clothing crying out to Hashem for help. The second is petulant crying, such as a rich person getting upset when he sees a neighbor overtake him in wealth, and crying to Hashem over not having received enough. Hashem welcomes the first type of crying and disdains the second. Thus, David HaMelech declares (Tehillim 51:19): “The heart of a broken and downcast man, God will not despise.” It is the crying of a person who is truly downcast that Hashem does not despise. But the crying of a well-off person who gets rattled by something not to his liking, Hashem indeed despises.
The generation of the wilderness was eminently well-off. Hashem had granted them great blessing and glory. Hence, their crying was for naught – that is, it was the type of crying that does not merit any Divine reward. Therefore, Hashem designated for the Jewish People a time appropriate for crying, for all generations. He arranged that we would cry over the destruction of the Batei Mikdash – a crying for which we would earn great reward, as befits crying that comes forth out of true distress.
Hashem’s way of dealing with us can be compared to the way a rich man would deal with a son who has no interest in Torah study or business, but instead spends all his time strolling and singing. He would apprentice him to a chazzan, so that at least his talent for singing would be put to good use, rather than going for naught. Similarly, when we show a “talent” for crying, Hashem arranges for us to suffer calamity, so that this “talent” can be put to good use and yield us reward.
It follows from the Maggid’s words that a crucial step in escaping the cycle of calamity is to stamp out our tendency for crying and griping. Many people tend to get upset over minor mishaps; I must confess, with regret, that I suffer badly from this tendency, and must struggle hard to fight it. Each of us must fight this tendency, to whatever degree he or she suffers from it. In the merit of our efforts, may we be privileged to see the final redemption, when Hashem will put our suffering to an end.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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