Sadly, Mashiach is not here yet and we could not celebrate Tish’ah B’Av as a happy holiday. However, It was made uplifting and inspiring by the many wonderful shiurim available in person and online. This year’s Chazaq Tish’ah B’Av Marathon featured the following speakers: Charlie Harary, Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, Rabbi Israel Itzhakov, Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier. Rabbi Yaakov Rahimi, Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Rabbi Ilan Meirov, Rabbi Yitzchok Oelbaum, Rabbi Duvi Bensoussan, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Rabbi Akiva Klein, Rabbi Yaakov Mizrahi, Rabbi Daniel Glatstein, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, and Rabbi Yigal Haimoff. Bukharian Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli was scheduled to speak but he was unable to attend.
Below is a summary of just a few of the incredible shiurim that can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
First, Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Co-director of Emet Outreach, shared a stirring shiur. He began by pointing out that the Sh’chinah is right here in front of us. “On Tish’ah B’Av, we think about the suffering of the Jewish people over thousands of years. However, in addition, we must think about the churban that is taking place right here in America. “Here we have so much opportunity and there is rampant assimilation. Our brothers and sisters are disappearing!”
He asked, “What is the purpose of mourning? After all, we have a mitzvah as Jews to always be b’simchah. We even learn that bad things happen if we don’t serve Hashem with joy. So, if our job is to be b’simchah, then what is the purpose of mourning and fasting? He answered that the purpose is to experience the loss and to connect to the lack of connection. It’s to wake us up to realize that we are not connected. Mourning helps us to focus on and recognize the blessings in our lives and the connections and opportunities we have right now.
Megillas Eichah begins with Yerushalayim being alone and disconnected. Yerushalayim is the city that connects us all. Galus is caused by baseless hatred. During the time of the Second Beis HaMikdash, the people heard what they did wrong but they didn’t connect to what they did wrong. They had sin’as chinam. Sin’as chinam doesn’t make sense. “I would define sin’as chinam as indifference. It means I don’t care about you. We lost the Beis HaMikdash because we didn’t feel a connection to others. We would say about others that they are from a different community or place.
“In psychology, the opposite of love is indifference. I think this is what sin’as chinam is.” Rabbi Rutenberg shared that when a couple comes to him for counseling and they are cold and indifferent, it is a bigger problem than a couple who come with anger towards each other. At least that couple has feelings.
When we ask Hashem to look out for us, this only works if we realize that we are all brothers. We must believe that Hashem is our Father and that He created us as brothers. If we don’t see each other as brothers, then Hashem says you are not seeing me as your Father.
Rabbi Rutenberg shared a teaching from his father. The world is created with divisions. There were divisions at creation: humans and animals, male and female, etc. The whole world was created with separation. Why did Hashem do this? We know that Hashem is one. The Maharal teaches that there is no light unless there is darkness. Hashem created a physical world with divisions so His oneness would be apparent.
We give our children a brachah every Friday night that they have shalom. The kohen gives us a brachah of shalom. The natural state of a human being is not shalom. We are pulled in many directions. The word shalom comes from the word shaleim, meaning complete. Peace and tranquility are a result of a sense of completeness, shleimus. Division and machlokes are at some level a feeling of limited resources. A person thinks to himself, your success makes me somehow lower. Korach is an example of this. He had so much, yet he wasn’t looking at what he had. He felt that the success of Moshe and Aharon limited him. This mindset can be explained as: Your success hurts me. We know jealousy is one of the Ten Commandments. Jealousy and lashon ha’ra destroy people’s lives and they destroy communities. A bully is a person with low self-esteem. When a person has good self-esteem, then lashon ha’ra is disgusting to him.
The Jewish people were one person and one heart when they accepted the Torah. This was the reason we could accept it.
“The closest that we can come to Hashem in this world without the Beis HaMikdash is to come close to another human being, because everyone is created in the image of G-d. Our society today is lacking connection. Devices that are made to help us connect are creating disconnection. We have a society today that is addicted. What is the opposite of addiction? It is connection with ourselves, with each other, with klal Yisrael, and with Hashem. “If I realize my internal value and how connected we all are with each other, then I can’t have sin’as chinam.”
In the Ahavah Rabah blessing that we recite before Sh’ma, we recognize Hashem’s love for us. We need to realize how special we are, and this will help us to connect to others. In the Sh’ma, we talk about the Oneness of Hashem and the love that Hashem has for us. Right before reciting Sh’ma, we ask Hashem to connect our hearts together. Sadly, we live our lives not appreciating how special we are. How do we fix baseless hatred? The answer is with baseless love. Rabbi Rutenberg shared how grateful he is personally for the opportunity to connect with others through his work with Emet Outreach.
The next speaker, Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, Founder of Shabbat.com, imparted that “Hashem loves us and He wants us to love each other.” When we don’t love each other there are problems and there is galus. We have to stop being judgmental and we have to stop putting each other into boxes. He spoke about the brutal year we all went through. He mentioned the missiles shot at Israel. He spoke about Jews being beaten up on the streets, etc. We see Jews spurring this on with putting down other Jews in The New York Times or reality shows and denouncing entire communities.
Titus, the general who destroyed the Second Temple, told Josephus that Jews hate each other so much that they would have destroyed it themselves.
Rabbi Klatzko said that one smile, one person saying “I love you,” can wash away so much negativity. We need to look at the good in those we disagree with.
Why were both temples destroyed on Tish’ah B’Av? Hashem punishes us to teach us a lesson. There is no secular holiday like Tish’ah B’Av. “Remembering in order to act is the Jewish way.” Both temples were destroyed on the same day because we didn’t learn a lesson the first time.
This year we had the tragedy in Meron. In the middle of joy there was a stampede and 45 neshamos were lost. It’s unheard of that a Jew falls on another Jew. A few days later, bleachers collapsed in Stolin and again Jews fell onto other Jews. Three people died and 18 were wounded.
Then there was the collapse in Miami. Again it was Jew falling on Jew. All three incredible events were similar tragedies. They all involved Jew crushing Jew. Calamity strikes only for the sake of the Jews to remind us to make the world better. “Hashem loves us, and for His love to be complete, we have to love each other.”
These meaningful shiurim from the Tish’ah B’Av Marathon can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber