Today is Shabbos, and the next day is Tisha Baav. How are we to understand the concept of going from Shabbos, a day of complete joy, to Tisha Baav, a day of complete sadness and mourning? Furthermore, how are we to comprehend the idea of mourning for a building that was destroyed two thousand years ago?
The act of mourning is normally understood as someone, Heaven forbid, losing a close relative, and he or she mourns for the person who will not come back. Yet, we pray every day numerous times for the arrival of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Third Bais HaMikdash. Why, then, are we mourning over the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, if it will soon be built?
In order to answer these questions, we must focus on what appears to be an unrelated incident recorded in the Torah. When the spies returned from Eretz Yisroel and delivered a slanderous report, it is said (Bamidbar 14:1) vatisa kol haeidahvaytinu es kolam vayivku haam balayala hahu, the entire assembly raised up and issued its voice; the people wept that night. The Gemara (Taanis 29a) states that HaShem proclaimed, “you have wept a weeping for nothing. By your life I will give you something to weep about for future generations.” That night was Tisha Baav and the Bais HaMikdash would be destroyed in the future on Tisha Baav.
Further on it is said that the ten spies died by plague and Moshe informed the Jewish People that they would die out in the Wilderness over a forty year period. It is said (Ibid verse 39) vayidabeir Moshe es hadevarim haeileh el kol binei Yisroel vaysiablu haam meod, Moshe spoke these words to all the Children of Israel, and the people mourned exceedingly. It is then said that that the next morning they awoke and they declared that that they would ascend to Eretz Yisroel for they had sinned. Moshe responded that they should not ascend as HaShem would not be with him. They defied Moshe’s command and they ascended anyway, and they were killed by the Amalekites and the Canaanites. It is said (Ibid verse 44) vayapilu laalos el rosh hahar vaaron bris HaShem uMoshe lo mashu mikerev hamachaneh, but they defiantly ascended to the mountaintop, while the Ark of HaShem’s covenant and Moshe did not move from the midst of the camp. What is the definition of the word vayapilu? Rashi writes that one explanation of the word ofel is strong, i.e., they forced their way up the mountain. Rashi then quotes the Medrash Tanchumah that interprets the word ofel written with an ayin to be akin to the word ofel written with an aleph (the letters ayin and aleph are interchangeable) and the Torah is teaching us that these people went in darkness without permission.
This statement of the Medrash offers us an amazing insight into the meaning of destruction and mourning. Although in the general sense one mourns over the loss of a loved one, regarding the state of the Jewish People there is a different dimension to the meaning of mourning. When the Jewish People do not follow the will of HaShem, and we rebel against Him, we are already subjecting ourselves to a state of mourning. Thus, on Tisha Baav we are not merely mourning the destruction of a building. Rather, we are distressed over the lack of light in our lives, as our insubordination causes HaShem, so to speak, to hide Himself from us.
There can be no greater tragedy than a lack of closeness to HaShem, the Life of the world. On Shabbos and on the festivals, HaShem grants us the opportunity to bask in that light, which is akin to the light of creation. We are prohibited from forcing the redemption to come (see Kesubos 111a) but we can hasten the redemption by observing the Shabbos and performing HaShem’s will. Rather than viewing this Shabbos as a temporary state of bliss which will be interrupted by Tisha Baav, we should maximize our efforts this Shabbos to heed HaShem’s will, with intense Torah study, prayer, and praising HaShem, and then we will not have to enter into Tisha Baav, which is a day of darkness and distress. Through the observance of Shabbos we will merit the light of Moshiach, and the light of the Third Bais HaMikdash, may it happen now, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Composed by the Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria
Yemina usmala uveinaihu kallah bikushitin azla umanin ulevushin, three preceding days to the right and three succeeding days to the left – and amid them the Shabbos bride. With adornments she goes, vessels and robes. This passage teaches us that Shabbos is the center of our lives. One should always be focused on preparing for Shabbos. In a similar vein, one should always be preparing oneself in this world for the World to Come, as Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Pieir vichavod nosnim lishmo, splendor and glory they bestow upon His Name. What is the association between splendor and glory and HaShem’s Name? The Gemara (Brachos 6a) states that HaShem wears Tefillin. The Gemara (Ibid) also states that it is said (Devarim 28:10) virau kol amei haaretz ki sheim HaShem nikra alecho veyaru mimeka, then all the peoples of the earth will see that the Name of HaShem is proclaimed over you, and they will revere you. The Gemara states that this alludes to Tefillin shel Rosh, the Tefillin that one wears on his head. Thus, we see that Tefillin are referred to as the Name of HaShem. Tefillin are called pieir, splendor, as it is said (Yechezkel 24:17) peircha chavosh alecho, don your headgear upon yourself. In this passage we are declaring that the heavenly bodies bestow pieir, splendor, upon HaShem’s Name. In a sense, this means that they are acknowledging the Tefillin that HaShem, so to speak, wears on His Head.
Once, on Erev Shabbos, when Rebbe Hirsh Leib of Alik was still a young man living in his father-in-law’s house, there arrived in town an agent of the Ministry of Taxation to investigate if the father-in-law was paying proper taxes on liquor. The man was terrified, and he called for his son-in-law and said, “Now let’s see the power of a Chasid,” meaning Hirsh Leib, because his father-in-law was an opponent of the Chasidic movement. Could Hirsh Leib help him? Could Hirsh Leib protect him? He was desperate. Hirsh Leib asked his father-in-law if they had already cooked the fish in honor of the holy Shabbos. When he was told: Yes, he went and took the pot with the fish and put it behind the door that led to the liquor cellar. When the tax agent came and opened the door to the cellar, he smelled the fish and asked the householder, “What is this delicious odor I smell?” The man answered, “It’s the odor of the fish cooked to honor the holy Shabbos,” but the agent wouldn’t believe him, saying that he had never smelled anything so extraordinary from fish! It was like the fragrance of paradise! The householder gave the agent a taste of the fish and he was so overcome and thrilled that he said to the householder, “A Jew who cooks fish like this for the Sabbath can’t be lying about his taxes!” And he did not even bother to investigate further. (Kuntres L’Sapair Yosher Kedoshei Alik, page 37)
Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov once spent Shabbos in Levov, and he sent his attendant on Erev Shabbos after midday to ascertain if the people of the town were prepared to greet the Shabbos. The attendant returned with the response that people were still busy going out about their daily affairs. The Rebbe kept on sending his attendant to see if the people were preparing for Shabbos, and the attendant continued to return with the same answer. Suddenly, immediately prior to the onset of Shabbos, the people closed the doors and the shutters of their shops and they rushed to prepare for Shabbos. Reb Menachem Mendel told his attendant, “see, as the receiving of the Shabbos is in Levov, so too will be the arrival of Moshiach. People will be preoccupied with their livelihood, completely unprepared to greet Moshiach. Suddenly, however, Moshiach will arrive, and the people will close their stores and disregard their monetary affairs, in light of the announcement that Moshiach has arrived.” ((Yalkut Menachem page 219 citing Sifrei Haleket Visippurim)
Shabbos in Navi
Shmuel I Chapter 3
In this chapter we learn how HaShem revealed Himself to Shmuel when he was yet a youngster. Hashem informed Shmuel that the sin of the house of Eli would never be atoned for by sacrifice or meal-offering. When Eli heard from Shmuel what HaShem had said, Eli accepted HaShem’s judgment. This chapter teaches us the gravity of sin. Eli himself had not sinned and according to one opinion in the Gemara (See Shabbos 55b) even his sons had not sinned. A second opinion maintains that Pinchas, Eli’s older son, did not sin, and the younger son, Chafni, did sin. The reason that Pinchas was held accountable was because he did not protest Chafni’s actions, and similarly, Eli was punished for not protesting his sons’ behavior. It is incumbent upon every Jew to observe Shabbos, and furthermore, every Jew is obligated to see to it that his neighbor observes Shabbos. If one does not take responsibility for his fellow Jew, he could Heaven forbid be held accountable. HaShem should allow us to merit observing the Holy Shabbos together, and then we will certainly merit the arrival of Moshiach, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in Agadah
The Imrei Emes (Bo 5637) quotes the Heilege Ishbizter who said that the reason we eat fish before any other food on Shabbos is because fish symbolizes life. The first specie that HaShem created was fish. The salvation for a Jew who wishes to bear children is drawn from fish. This is also that Jewish children should be viable and no evil eye should be cast upon them similar to fish of which the Gemara (Brachos 20a) states that fish are not dominated by the evil eye.
Shabbos in Halacha
We have learned previously of the prohibition of nesinah lichatchilah, initially placing food on a flame or on a blech. This prohibition only applies regarding placing ânew’ foods on the flame or blech that were not there at the onset of Shabbos. Returning (i.e. replacing on a blech) food that was taken off during Shabbos will be permitted. Transferring food from one blech to another (or from a flame to a blech) is considered a form of returning and would be permitted.
Shabbos in Numbers and Words
The Gerrer Rebbe, the Pinei Menachem, writes (Pinchas 5764) that Shabbos elevates everything in the world to the upper worlds, and like the Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states, even one who worshipped idols like in the days of Enosh, if he observes Shabbos, his sins will be forgiven. It is said (Tehillim 92:9) viatah marom liolam HaShem, but You remain exalted forever, HaShem. The Pinei Menachem writes that the words marom vikadosh, exalted and holy, equal in gematria the word Shabbos.
Text Copyright © 2008 by Binyomin Adler and Torah.org