Tisha B'Av: The Heart of Judaism
The heart’s pain radiates throughout the body. In similar fashion, all of a Jew’s troubles are radiated pain from the destruction of the Holy Temple.
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Why is it that right before Tisha B'Av, all our aches and pains seem to be the worst?
There isn't a single one of us who doesn't have a problem that hurts - some have health problems, others have financial difficulties, many have marital issues, quite a few have grief from their children. Some couples don't have children at all, and still others long to find their soulmate and are lonely in the meanwhile. If I haven’t alluded to your particular problem, simply fill in the blank. We all have our ills, whether physical, emotional, spiritual, or interpersonal. Most of us think that an "ointment" of a raise in salary, a new toy, a night on the town or relief of our localized problem will end our ills. Wrong.
The real root of all our ills is Jerusalem - the lack of our Holy Temple and the Divine Presence within our midst. We sorely need the tamidim, the daily sacrifices on the altar, and especially the monthly se’ir chata’at, the sin offering that atones for all of Israel. We don’t realize how badly are souls have withered, for we’ve never heard the sublime melodies (in this reincarnation) of 24-part Levite harmony or the magical strains of a Levite’s harp – one song or prayer in the Beit HaMikdash would be enough to send our souls in orbit, leaving the disgust of the gross material world that so many of are attached to. Like those born in caves that have never seen the light, we don’t know what we’re missing. The root of the all our pain is in the heart of Judaism – Jerusalem and the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple.
Hashem doesn’t want us to be ignorant, so He’s given us three weeks – between 17 Tammuz and the 9th of Av – to ponder the meaning of the Holy Temple’s destruction, not merely from a historical perspective, but from a very pragmatic contemporary perspective as well. When we think about all that’s lacking in our lives a Torah-observant people - High Priest, the sacrifices, the Levites, mitzvoth that can only be performed in the context of the Holy Temple, the Sanhedrin, true spiritual purity and true spirituality – only then do we begin to lament the Temple’s destruction with any semblance of sincerity.
And on Tisha B'Av, we're neither eating or drinking. We're not even learning Torah, except for the passages that deal with the destruction of the Holy Temple. Hashem has given us a forced "time-out"; He wants us to ponder our loss, to think about why we really hurt...
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev didn’t want us to become spiritually flabby, insensitive, and apathetic about the destruction of the Temple, exile from Jerusalem, and the diaspora. He therefore requires us to recite the Tikkun Chatzot prayer and cry to Hashem to redeem us soon.
Rather than crying out to Hashem, are we tacitly agreeing to the dissection and ultimate surrender of Jerusalem, the heart of the Jewish people? Have we asked Hashem even once to prevent the dissection of Jerusalem? Or are we more concerned about our new ceramic floor in the bathroom?
My dear friends in London, Melbourne, Toronto, Miami Beach, Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere - don't think that Jerusalem is the Israel's problem alone; it's just as much your problem too. You are limbs that extend from the same heart that is known as Yerushalayim and Bet HaMikdash. When we here at the Breslev Israel are crying out for Jerusalem and Moshiach, it's because our national cure depends on a healthy heart - Jerusalem and the full redemption of our people. With the Divine Presence within our midst, there is a limitless blessing of abundance for health, happiness, and everything we need.
Our sages say that if we don’t rebuild Jerusalem and the Beit HaMikdash in our generation, it’s as if we destroyed it, Heaven forbid.
Raise your voice now – skyward. Hashem is listening. Redemption could be no more than a heartbeat away. Your prayers could tip the scales for Moshiach and the full redemption of our people, speedily and in our days, amen.
The Heart of Judaism – the Beit Hamikdash in Jerusalem
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.