08 Aug 2019 Devarim-Tisha B’Av: Our Eternal Survival
This week’s parsha, Parshas Devarim, is always read erev Tisha B’Av (and this year is read on 9 Av itself). Why the juxtaposition of Parshas Devarim to Tisha B’Av?
In perek alef (Chapter 1), Moshe recalls the sin of the spies, who went up the scout out the Land of Israel (Bamidbar 13), and came back with a slanderous report. In response to the report of the spies, the nation sat and wept that night (Bamidbar 14:1). Chazal teach: אמר להם הקב”ה אתם בכיתם בכיה של חנם ואני קובע לכם בכיה לדורות – In response to their crying for naught, Hashem said: you have cried for no reason, I will establish for you a crying for generations (Taanis 29a). That night of crying was the very first Tisha B’Av, which foreshadowed destruction through the ages R”L.
In Megillah Eichah (4:11), we read: כִּלָּה ה’ אֶת-חֲמָתוֹ, שָׁפַךְ חֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ; וַיַּצֶּת-אֵשׁ בְּצִיּוֹן, וַתֹּאכַל יְסֹדֹתֶיהָ, Hashem has accomplished His fury, He has poured out His fierce anger; and He has kindled a fire in Zion, which has devoured her foundations.
The Medrash (Eichah Rabbah 4:14) comments:
כִּלָּה ה’ אֶת חֲמָתוֹ שָׁפַךְ חֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ. וַיַּצֶּת אֵשׁ בְּצִיּוֹן, כְּתִיב (תהלים עט, א): מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף אלקים בָּאוּ גּוֹיִם בְּנַחֲלָתֶךָ, לָא הֲוָה קְרָא צָרִיךְ לְמֵימַר אֶלָּא בְּכִי לְאָסָף, נְהִי לְאָסָף, קִינָה לְאָסָף, וּמָה אוֹמֵר מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף? אֶלָּא מָשָׁל לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁעָשָׂה בֵּית חֻפָּה לִבְנוֹ וְסִיְּדָהּ וְכִיְּרָהּ וְצִיְּרָהּ, וְיָצָא בְּנוֹ לְתַרְבּוּת רָעָה, מִיָּד עָלָה הַמֶּלֶךְ לַחֻפָּה וְקָרַע אֶת הַוִּילָאוֹת וְשִׁבֵּר אֶת הַקָּנִים, וְנָטַל פַּדְגּוֹג שֶׁלּוֹ אִיבּוּב שֶׁל קָנִים וְהָיָה מְזַמֵּר. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, הַמֶּלֶךְ הָפַךְ חֻפָּתוֹ שֶׁל בְּנוֹ וְאַתְּ יוֹשֵׁב וּמְזַמֵּר, אָמַר לָהֶם מְזַמֵּר אֲנִי שֶׁהָפַךְ חֻפָּתוֹ שֶׁל בְּנוֹ וְלֹא שָׁפַךְ חֲמָתוֹ עַל בְּנוֹ
כָּךְ אָמְרוּ לְאָסָף הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הֶחֱרִיב הֵיכָל וּמִקְדָּשׁ וְאַתָּה יוֹשֵׁב וּמְזַמֵּר, אָמַר לָהֶם מְזַמֵּר אֲנִי שֶׁשָּׁפַךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא חֲמָתוֹ עַל הָעֵצִים וְעַל הָאֲבָנִים וְלֹא שָׁפַךְ חֲמָתוֹ עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב: וַיַּצֶּת אֵשׁ בְּצִיּוֹן וַתֹּאכַל יְסֹדֹתֶיהָ
Hashem has spent His fury, He has poured out His fierce anger, He kindled a fire in Zion (Eichah 4:11). It is written: A song of Asaf. O G-d, heathens have entered Your domain (Psalm 79:1). This verse should not have said a song, but rather a cry, of Asaf, a mourning cry of Asaf, a lament of Asaph, so why does it say a song of Asaf?
(We can answer with) a parable about a king who made a chuppah for his son he laid its foundation, he painted and decorated it, and his son went out to evil ways. Immediately, the king went up to the chuppah and tore up the curtains and smashed the rods and (the son’s) tutor went and made a flute of the rod and was playing music. They said to him: “The king overturned his son’s chuppah and you are sitting playing music?” He said to them: “I am playing music because he overturned his son’s chuppah and did not pour out his anger on his son.”
So they said to Asaf: The Holy One, blessed be He, has destroyed the Temple, His Holy Place, and you are sitting and playing music? He said to them: “I am playing music because the Holy One, blessed be He, poured out his anger on wood and stone and did not pour out his anger on Israel. As it is written: “He kindled a fire in Zion which consumed its foundations.”
Chazal are teaching us that in an act of Divine Rachamim (Mercy), Churban Beis Ha’Mikdash (BHM”K) ensured the eternal survival of Knesses Yisrael. Instead of destroying the nation, the RS”O (Almighty) destroyed our holy places and our land… but promised that our people would always survive.
Rav Soloveitchik teaches that, “Paradoxically, the moment the BHM”K was set ablaze was a moment of relief. At that moment, it became clear that G-d decided to take the collateral, the BHM”K instead of pursuing the real debtor, the Jewish people. Paradoxically, once He took away the BHM”K in the afternoon of Tisha B’Av, the nechama, the consolation, could begin. Tisha B’Av is a day of limitless despair and boundless hope and faith” (Kinos Masores HaRav, p.283).
Reb Yossele Friedenson z’l (d.2013) recalls “I am not sure if father (Reb Eliezer Gershon Friedenson HYD”) expected that he, personally, would survive the war. When I was smuggled out of the (Warsaw) ghetto on December 31, 1941, his parting words to me were, ‘Who knows when we shall meet again… You should remember to always be a Jew. You should have bitachon (trust in Hashem) no matter what happens, and always keep your emunah (faith) intact. Even though we may never see each other again, Klal Yisrael will always be there and the RS”O won’t forsake Klal Yisrael. נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֹא יְשַׁקֵּר (Shmuel I 15:29). V’chayei olam nata b’so’chainu – and eternal life is implanted within us. Hashem has assured us that He will never allow the annihilation of the Jews and the Jewish people.
“He wept, of course. And my mother wept… Nevertheless, his faith in the eventual downfall of the tyrant never wavered, and anyone who came in contact with him was infused with his contagious emunah and bitachon – his unshakable faith in the yeshuah (Divine salvation).
“On the day I arrived in America, a Yiddish printed an article mentioning my father’s name as one of the heroes on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Did my father die a hero’s death? Maybe. He was involved in some underground activities from early one, but I was not present at the end, so I can never know for sure. This much, though, I do know: that my father, like thousands of others, lived a hero’s life.
“Every day of Father’s life was filled to overflowing with heroic deeds of chessed and maasim tovim, of high risk communal involvement, of tzedaka, hachnasas orchim, and bitachon – unbreakable links in an eternal chain of valor and heroism” (Faith Amid the Flames, p.123-124).
May we merit to see our destroyed places rebuilt and witness the return of our people to our Land, with the ultimate redemption. But until that great day, may we take comfort – נַחֵם ה’ אֶת אֲבֵלֵי צִיּון וְאֵת אֲבֵלֵי יְרוּשָׁלַיִם וְאֶת הָעִיר הָאֲבֵלָה וְהַחֲרֵבָה וְהַבְּזוּיָה וְהַשּׁומֵמָה – in knowing that our great nation is eternal, and has survived and flourished despite every enemy, every churban, every calamity and every exile.
הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ ה’ אֵלֶיךָ ונשוב (וְנָשׁוּבָה), חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כְּקֶדֶם – Return us to You, Hashem, and we will return; restore our days as of old (Eichah 5:21).
בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,