Every year for more than ten years, Chazaq and TorahAnytime have hosted an incredible Tish’ah B’Av Torah learning marathon at Beth Gavriel Center in Forest Hills. This is the first year that it could not take place live at Beth Gavriel Center, due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was livestreamed by TorahAnytime all over the world.
This incredible life-changing Torah-learning marathon, on Thursday, July 30, included shiurim from 10:40 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Every rabbi spoke for around 30 minutes, and the following is the list of speakers: Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Rabbi Ilan Meirov, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, Rabbi Israel Itshakov, Mr. Harry Rothenberg, Esq., Dr. David Lieberman, Rabbi Lazer Brody, Rabbi Daniel Glatstein, Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, Rabbi Yom Tov Glaser, Chief Bukharian Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli, Rabbi Hanoch Teller, Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, Rabbi Yossi Bensoussan, HaRav HaGaon Yitzchok Sorotzkin, Rabbi Dr. Daniel Roth, Rabbi Yaakov Rahimi, Rabbi Gavriel Friedman, Rabbi David Ashear, Rabbi Yitzchok Oelbaum, Rabbi Yechiel Spero, Rabbi Fischel Schachter, Rabbi Akiva Klein, and Rabbi Yigal Haimoff.
Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, Operations Manager of Chazaq, greeted everyone and lamented that Tish’ah B’Av began early this year as we lost so many holy people and rabbis. Every year that the Beis HaMikdash is not rebuilt it is as if it was destroyed in that time. In our time now, we must work on filling the world with causeless love to eradicate causeless hatred that caused the destruction. Rabbi Meirov invited everyone to stay for the all-day learning that would go until seven p.m. “Tish’ah B’Av is all about becoming a better person.”
Next, Mr. Shimon Kolyakov, Director and Founder of TorahAnytime, spoke briefly, urging everyone to be part of the TorahAnytime Daily Dose. You message 929-355-4268 to receive powerful short Torah inspiration. He shared that over a quarter million people are using TorahAnytime, and ten million hours of Torah learning a year are being disseminated by the TorahAnytime website. Donations to be able to continue this holy work are appreciated.
Below is just a sampling of the inspiring speeches delivered livestream for this event.
The first speaker, Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, renowned speaker, shared that “3,300 years ago we messed up.” What was the sin that led to the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash, the Second Beis HaMikdash, the start of World War I and World War II, the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition, and the expulsion from Spain? He noted that the sin of the Golden Calf was likened to adultery under the chupah. What a tremendous abuse of a relationship. Yet, we don’t commemorate this violation against Hashem every year. While the negative report of the spies about Eretz Yisrael, which caused klal Yisrael to cry wasted tears, led to Hashem declaring that we cried this night tears for nothing, so I will make this a night of tears for a reason.
Rabbi Rietti asked, “What upset Hashem most? He taught that it was the complaining, the lashon ha’ra. He explained that every negative character trait derives from complaining. If you peel away hatred against someone, you find there is a complaint behind it. “Baseless hatred is based on a complaint. Jealousy is a complaint. Anger is a complaint. Lashon ha’ra is a complaint.”
Adam was the first to complain. When Hashem asked him if he ate from the tree, he responded that the woman You gave me caused me to eat. He is complaining against Hashem and the gift Hashem gave him. According to Chazal, Rivkah was originally destined to birth the 12 Tribes, but she voiced a complaint during her pregnancy. She said, “Lamah zeh anochi?” The midrash says that she said that if she knew that it would be so painful, she never would have davened for it. At that moment, Hashem canceled her destiny to give birth to the 12 Tribes.
Rabbi Rietti taught that the very first complaint occurred during the creation. On the fourth day, the sun and the moon were both equal, and the moon complained that there can’t be two kings. So, Hashem took away his light. “Complaining is the worst.”
Yaakov states a six-word complaint when he meets Pharoah, who asks him why he looks so old.
Yaakov responds, “Few and bad were days in my life.” David HaMelech, who suffered more than anyone in this world, wrote the following in T’hilim: “Widen your mouth and I will fill it.” Rabbi Rietti taught that he is saying to widen your mouth with praise and gratitude. In other words, “Thank Me, and I will give you more reasons to thank Me.” On the other hand, if I widen my mouth with complaints, then Hashem will fill your mouth with more reasons to complain.”
There will come a time when Hashem will wipe away all tears of suffering and He will swallow death. Then there will only be tears of joy. Rabbi Rietti taught that the month of Av is called a month of comfort. The M’silas Y’sharim teaches that proof of our love of Hashem is that when we have reason to complain, instead we say thank you. He mentioned the powerful sefer by Rabbi Arush, Say “Thank You” and See Miracles, which contains 19 stories of people who were able to reach the level to thank Hashem for their suffering and challenges, and then saw tremendous, miraculous y’shuos. The word nechamah means both comfort and regret. I regret that I misjudged Hashem and didn’t realize that everything is good.
Rabbi Rietti continued: “We reduce suffering by being happy and saying: ‘G-d, I love You, no matter what.’”
The next lecturer was Dr. David Lieberman, noted speaker and award-winning author, who shared key ideas in how to reestablish a relationship – how to make shalom. Connection is relationships. How do we reconnect with somebody? Conflict comes from something I did to someone or that he or she did to me. First of all, if you want to reestablish connection, do not rehash or bring up what you argued about before.
He then explained that the best thing to do is to take full responsibility for how everything unfolded. This will allow the other person to drop his ego defense, and he or she will be open then to hear and understand. At this point, they are in a healthier place.
He taught: “How you enter the situation is critical. You must enter with as much respect and deference as possible. Put this person in a position of power.” You can say, “I owe you an apology.” This is a great way to obtain listening ears. Always ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” Take full responsibility and sincerely apologize. This is about you taking responsibility that you caused them pain. “Don’t dismiss the power of actually saying the words ‘I’m sorry.’” Be willing to offer or accept any consequences the person puts forward. “It’s always best to let them know they’re in charge here. You have to let them have control.”
He explained: “If you can move forward to make peace, regardless of their response, you will feel better about yourself.” From a spiritual perspective, you now become a vessel to receive brachah. From an emotional perspective, you feel better about yourself and there are even physical benefits. You sleep better, and according to studies you will have lower cholesterol.
He suggested reaching out during a life-altering event, because during those times the ego is muted. If you cannot do it yourself, then do it through a third party.
Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Director of Emet Outreach, shared a poignant shiur. He noted that this Tish’ah B’Av is different. It’s taking place during a pandemic. In a certain sense, we have galus even more than usual. Tish’ah B’Av is the saddest day of the Jewish year. It’s a day of mourning and reflecting, beginning with the sin of the spies and continuing throughout generations. It’s a day of suffering and sadness. It’s a day to reflect on our disconnections. “The only way to connect is to realize that we are disconnected.” Many people ask: What is Hashem’s message with the quarantine? This is hard to know, but we can agree that one message is that we must be more connected to Hashem. We have to not take shuls for granted. Shul is a small Beis HaMikdash and the purpose of shul is for us to connect to Hashem. So how do we get connected with Hashem and each other? “How do we take this opportunity to truly get connected?” He suggested starting with small things. Look for opportunities to create more connection. We lost the Beis HaMikdash because of baseless hatred. Our connection with fellow Jews and to ourselves mirrors our connection with Hashem. If we look down on other Jews because they are different from us, then we don’t feel connection to Hashem and to our mission.
These wonderful shiurim can be viewed on TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber