9th of Av: The Emunah Perspective

After reading Megillas Eicha, (some of which I understand), after reading the Kinnos (most of which I don’t understand), I then go home and sit. On the floor, off the floor.

We contemplate, we think, we read about all of the destruction.

So much has happened on this day it boggles the mind! So much destruction. So much suffering. How are we supposed to comprehend it all?

In truth, there are two perspectives. One positive, one negative.

The negative one is full of anger – how could G-d do this to us? Look at what He did! The destruction, the suffering.

That’s one perspective, one which totally lacks any real perspective.

The real Torah perspective is that we brought all of this on ourselves. As our sages, ob”m, tell us that any generation which did not merit to see the redemption and rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash is because it is worthy of the destruction.

If we peruse the kelalaos (the curses) brought in the Torah, and if we pay close attention to all of the prophecies of destruction we find that there is a clear central theme: we reap what we sow. As Moshe tells us quite clearly in Devarim (Deuteronomy) Chapter 30, 15-20

See that I have placed before you today the life and the good, and the death and the evil. That I have commanded you today to love HaShem, your G-d, to walk in His path and to guard His mitzvos, His statutes and His Judgements, and you will live and multiply, and HaShem, your G-d will bless you in the land unto which He is bringing you to inherit. And if your heart will turn and you will not listen (=take heed) and you will push away (the mitzvos, etc.) and you will bow down to other gods and worship them. I tell you today that you will surely be destroyed, you will not have the length of days in the land which you are crossing the Jordan to go there and inherit it.

There is more there, but this sums it up: we are Jews, Jews keep HaShem’s Torah. If we choose that path – life is not only good, it’s great! If we choose the other path – we choose to get what that path brings.

It’s like a sick person who goes to the doctor only to be told that the diagnosis is not good. “However,” he says “if you take the following medicine – you’ll stay healthy and everything will be fine. If you don’t, though, you’ll deteriorate and die slowly”.

Would we be angry at the doctor for what happens if we didn’t take the medicine? Of course not! We, ourselves, would be responsible for the outcome. It was in our ability to prevent it. We chose not to.

So why should our perspective be one of anger? Why should we not take to heart all that has transpired and make the real change necessary so that we should never have to experience such destruction again?

I don’t know. That’s a question that we each need to ask ourselves constantly.

But there are those who don’t like the above analogy. “It’s different here,” they say. “G-d didn’t have to make me sick in the first place.”

While that may be true, it also belays a fundamental misunderstanding as to the purpose of life. That issue is beyond the scope of today’s issue.

At the end of the day just like, (to paraphrase Shlomo ha’Melech) a black person can’t change the color of his skin, just like a man can’t really become a woman or vise versa – so too a Jew is a Jew regardless of whether he wishes it were otherwise. To be a Jew and have a truly great life means to subjugate oneself to the Torah and live it to the max. Anything else is just destruction.

Yehi ratzon that HaShem should give us the life, time and sense of purpose so that we can overcome our bad middos, understand the inherent goodness that comes from a  life of Torah, unite in our striving for life in this world which will bring about the final redemption.

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