Sadly, again this year, again on Tish’ah B’Av, we sat on the floor and mourned the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. Thankfully, Chazaq and Beth Gavriel hosted a Tish’ah B’Av learning program at Beth Gavriel with fantastic speakers every half hour during the day, from 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Charlie Harary spoke at night.
The first speaker during the day, Rabbi Tomer Zino, said that we aren’t mourning just the destruction of the buildings, which happened thousands of years ago. We are mourning what it represents. The Temple represents our relationship with Hashem.
Why did the spies give a negative report? They said, “We were like grasshoppers in their eyes,” referring to the inhabitants of the Land of Israel. They didn’t believe in themselves, so this caused others to not believe in them. In T’hilim 29, we describe how Hashem got rid of the Temple and put us in exile. The Midrash asks: Why does this perek of T’hilim begin with the words “A Song of Asaf”? He answered that it’s a song because Hashem destroyed sticks and stones instead of the Jewish People. He saw that we were not respectful or deserving, so he took away the Temple. Hashem saved us by destroying the Beis HaMikdash.
If our focus is not connection to Hashem, then the Temple is just sticks and stones. The Jewish People were disconnected from the holiness of the Temple, so this allowed Titus to destroy it.
The lesson for us is that we were not making the Beis HaMikdash real. We have to ask ourselves today if we are being real with Hashem? Do we connect to Hashem and enjoy learning His Torah and performing mitzvos? Are we doing them with feeling or just robotically?
He taught that if we are true to ourselves and connected to Hashem, then, as it says in T’hilim, Hashem is our shadow, and He will connect to us. The spies didn’t believe Hashem was with them, and that brought disastrous results. The Beis HaMikdash represents the deepest connection with Hashem and the Jewish People.
Even if there is a Beis HaMikdash, it is not meaningful unless we are connected to it. Ask yourself if being a Jew is real to you, or are you just going through the motions? Try to find a way to connect more through learning more about the mitzvos and learning more Torah.
The mentality of not realizing your greatness causes disconnectedness. You have to believe in yourself and know that your mitzvos mean something. The destruction started within us. “We have to believe that our mitzvos and the Jewish People matter, and then Hashem will be with us.”
He concluded that Hashem cares about us and wants us to be successful.
Next, Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, Founder and CEO of Chazaq and Rabbi of Congregation of Charm Circle, spoke next. He noted that the name Tish’ah B’ Av is not a name but it’s a date. This gives us hope that it won’t be a sad day forever. We didn’t recite Tachanun on Tish’ah B’Av because in the future it will be a holiday.
Major tragedies in history occurred on this day. The spies spoke negatively about the Land of Israel – the core issue was their mindset. They felt they were small. It shows the power of the mind. Sin’as chinam caused the destruction of the Second Beis HaMikdash. We have to work on ahavas chinam through our mindset. Think that you love every single person. This is the koach of machashavah.
We tell ourselves that we can’t have shalom bayis or find our shidduch, etc. We need to change our mindset to positive and believe that we can bring the g’ulah – personal and national.
Rabbi Meirov asked, “How is it possible for us to bring Mashiach?”
Previous tzadikim did the hard work. We just need to do a little more and get out of our comfort zone. Remember the teaching in Pirkei Avos that the world was created for me. “We have a piece of Hashem in us, and we can do anything!”
He shared a beautiful story from Rabbi David Ashear. It was about a man who brought a gift to a wedding in Israel and put it into the box for gifts. Then, he discovered he was not at his cousin’s wedding. He went over to the father of the chasan to find out about retrieving his gift from the box. The father of the chasan was so overcome with gratitude that this rabbi came to the wedding without being invited and he danced with him. The rabbi started to ask about the gift and the father couldn’t believe he even brought a gift. So, in the end, he didn’t tell him and brought a different envelope with money to his cousin’s wedding.
Later, he found out that his going to that wedding had tremendous ripple effects. The father of the groom had been angry and had not spoken to a friend for five years because he wasn’t invited to the friend’s family wedding. Seeing the rabbi come uninvited like that, he decided to make up. Then he discovered he had in fact been invited and somehow didn’t get the invitation.
Rabbi Meirov noted, “When you make shalom, it is auspicious for asking for whatever you want.” He pointed out that all our prayers end with the word shalom. “When we have shalom, blessings pour forth.” He urged everyone to make that call and push aside ego to make peace. Shalom is shaleim – complete or full. Machlokes is from the word cheilek – a portion of the story. With shalom you have the whole story. If we trust in Hashem, we have to apply this message.
“Everything Hashem does is for the best. Hashem runs the world!” Rabbi Yaniv quoted a teaching that he always remembers. “Let Hashem run the show and your life will be good.”
He then shared that marriage is a workshop. “Take on yourselves to take responsibility to make a difference. The more you do for Hashem, the more He will do for you.”
Good, positive actions come back to you. It’s like a mirror. The way you act is the way Hashem will give back spiritually to you.
Following this, Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Director of Emet Outreach, shared a shiur. He shared that so many tragedies befell the Jewish people on Tish’ah B’ Av. The sins of Man against Hashem caused destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash and sins of man against man caused destruction of the Second Beis HaMikdash. Since we are mourning the destruction of both, we have to work on eliminating both types of sins. He taught that all sins come because of disconnection. We are sent into exile to find connection – to reconnect with who we really are.
The Ten Commandments begin with belief in Hashem and end with the command to not be jealous. Why is not being jealous one of the Ten Commandments? How can Hashem command an emotion?
He noted that all of Torah is connected to each of the Ten Commandments. So many problems come because of jealousy. It says not to covet anything that someone else has. When we are jealous, we are saying that we want to be that person. Jealousy stems from a lack of belief in who I am and appreciation of my own strengths, and it also reflects a lack of belief in Hashem. “Lack of belief in self is a lack of belief in Hashem.”
Saying I want that person’s life is saying Hashem made a mistake making me who I am.
One of the sins that creates sin’as chinam is lashon ha’ra. In the secular world, lashon ha’ra is totally acceptable. When a person speaks lashon ha’ra, he becomes a m’tzora, which means matza ra – he finds the bad.
When a person has a healthy sense of self, he doesn’t feel any desire to speak lashon ha’ra, and jealousy is disgusting to him. We speak lashon ha’ra when we feel low. Lashon ha’ra destroys three people: the person who says it, the listener, and the person spoken about. Lashon ha’ra brings down the whole society.
How can I remove jealousy? The Chidushei HaRim taught that Hashem says, “I place before you life and death; choose life.” This means that every moment in our lives we should choose more life. We all have the opportunity to choose more life. There is constantly a choice to choose more meaning and purpose. Choose to focus on yourself and not on others, and to believe in yourself. This is a constant choice.
Kavod has the same root as kaveid, meaning heavy. When you honor someone, you see that he is heavy and you are not dismissing him lightly. Healthy kavod for yourself is recognizing your strengths, and this helps you give kavod to others.
We recite Modeh Ani every morning, and in that blessing we say that Hashem has emunah in us. We need to realize that we are alive today so we can accomplish something that no one else can do. This is the opposite of jealousy.
Between the story of the spies and Korach is the mitzvah of Tzitzis. The purpose of tzitzis is that you look at them and don’t go astray in life. The Gemara teaches that the blue thread reminds you of the ocean and the ocean reminds you of the sky and the sky reminds you of Hashem’s throne. The corner of a garment is symbolic of when you feel stuck in life. At that moment, you feel like giving up, you have a choice to get into addiction or to move towards meaning and purpose.
“The opposite of addiction is connection.” We have a piece of Hashem within us. When We remember this and our potential, then there is no need for jealousy.
How do we make this reconnection? He taught that we make the choice to live a connected life and to go away from distractions in life.
Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, Founder of Shabbat.com, spoke next. He shared how we are not terrible and that is the emes. We pretty much get along. We’re really pretty amazing. He then shared a different angle on the Kamtza-Bar Kamtza story. According to Josephus, Bar Kamtza was a Herodian Jew, and he wanted to go against the rabbanim. In the story, Kamtza had invited the rabbanim, and they were going to talk about issues of the day. Bar Kamtza didn’t like the rabbanim. He was a danger. So that’s why they couldn’t have him at the party. Rabbi Klatzko then asked, “So where is the baseless hatred?”
There were three choices. Let him stay and put the rabbanim in danger, send the rabbanim away and let all the food go to waste, or send Bar Kamtza away and he will be ashamed. The sin’as chiman is that even a Herodian Jew, someone so far from Judaism, still has feelings. It would have been better to waste the food than to embarrass him. Chazal say that the rabbanim keeping quiet at the Kamtza party is sin’as chinam.
The sin’as chinam today is towards non-frum Jews. “Every Jew has a pintele Yid inside. The opposite of hating for no reason is loving for no reason. I need to realize that in every Jew there is something I need to love and something to connect to. This is the message of Chazaq. This is the message of kiruv.”
Rabbi Klatzko shared that he does kiruv for Olami, a kiruv organization. “We must be a source of ahavah to every Jew, frum or not frum. You don’t have to know anything about kiruv. All you need to know is how it feels to be loved.”
Even the most distanced person has a good heart. If Torah is presented to him in the right way, it will reach him.
The greatest danger today for Judaism is assimilation and disconnection. There are millions of Jews you pass every day. Ahavah means you reach out. Give them a way of connecting. It is inexcusable to not offer Torah to our brothers and sisters. Take the mission and reach out to klal Yisrael seriously. “Kiruv is as alive as we make it. We should greet Mashiach together!”
The following rabbis spoke after this: Rabbi Yaakov Mizrahi, Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, Rabbi Israel Itshakov, Rabbi Yaakov Rahimi, Rabbi Yisrael Abisror, Rabbi Akiva Klein, Rabbi Yitzchok Oelbaum, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Rabbi Ilan Meirov, Rabbi Yitzchok Bistritzer, Rabbi Yigal Haimoff.
The Kaliver Rebbe was available upstairs to give blessings and guidance, and there was free shaatnez testing and filters available for devices.
It was an amazing and inspiring event with many people listening in person and tens of thousands watching online.
Next year, we should all be in Yerushalayim with Mashiach, and Tish’ah B’Av should be a joyous holiday.
By Susie Garber