Posted on July 20, 2023 (5783) By Rabbi Label Lam | Series: | Level:

For these things I weep; my eye, yea my eye, sheds tears, for the comforter to restore my soul is removed from me; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed. (Eicha 1:16)

I was giving a very great Rabbi a ride to the airport during “the 9 days” and he shared with me a fascinating question that was presented to the Chazon Ish. We know from the Rambam that prophecy is only possible when the Navi is in a joyous mood. How then can the Navi Yirmiahu have written Megillas Eicha with Nevuah when he was visualizing and warning about and emoting over the impending doom of the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash?! The moment he would become overwhelmed with sadness, his prophetic experience should be interrupted. How can he be both B’Simcha and terribly sad? The Rabbi told me that the Chazon Ish said, “It’s not a contradiction”. I had always understood that answer to mean that a person can have two opposite emotions at the same time and they do not cancel each other out, like, “rejoice in trembling”. Now, recently, I have discovered a different approach.

We sing on Friday Night in the Zemer “Kol MeKadesh” the following curious words, “Lovers of HASHEM who are longing for and anticipating the building of the Mikdash, (SISU v SIMCHU) have on Shabbos Kodesh an extra and deep measure of joy like someone who has received an endless inheritance.” What is the connection between longing for the Bais HaMikdash and having an experience of intense joy on Shabbos Kodesh?

We don’t have to be great scholars to recognize that there is an intimate relationship between Shabbos and the Bais HaMikdash. All of the actions that went into the construction of the Mishkan are exactly those activities that we refrain from on Shabbos. They are like two sides of the same coin. One is HAHSEM’s place in the dimension of space and the other is HASHEM’s place in time. In a certain way there is a supremacy of Shabbos over the Bais HaMikdash. We cease from the construction of HASHEM’s place when HASHEM’s time – Shabbos arrives. The Bais HaMikdash yields to Shabbos Kodesh!

I remember having heard from Rabbi Shimshon Pinchus ztl. that the Bais HaMikdash corresponds to the sense of sight. That is the place where the Einei HaAm, the eyes of the nation, the Sanheidrin sat and it is the place where the entire nation came three times a year for R’eias Panim to see or to be seen by HASHEM. It was a continuation of Mt. Sinai where “the entire nation saw the sounds”. They experienced visually what could normally only be perceived through sound. There, cracks in Emunah were healed. Shabbos is comparable to the other 4 senses.

Long ago when our three oldest boys were 2,4, and 6 years old we went to Israel for six weeks. We stopped off to visit a blind woman that my wife had read and written letters for while she was in seminary. Before going up to her apartment my wife warned them not to be weirded out because she cannot see. When we sat before her she knew exactly who was in the room.

My wife and I exchanged glances of amazement as she described each child’s nature with precision. When we left her apartment my four-year old, Eli said, “That lady can’t see with her eyes but she sure can see with her heart!”

Sometimes when someone is stricken blind the other four senses are able to compensate in such a way that they can actually perceive beyond what a sighted person can. And so now that we lack the Bais HaMikdash we are stricken blind spiritually. We cannot see HASHEM but because we want to see so badly, we are able, with the other senses, to see HASHEM with our hearts.

B’Yam Derachecha describes that Aveilos– mourning is not about being sad. That’s forbidden! Rather it’s about longing! They are both actually coming from the same deep feeling of love and attachment. He gives an analogy of parents who need to send their child away. To the extent that they have this child in their lives they are thrilled and that is the reason they cry longingly about his absence. It’s not a contradiction. To the extent that we have Shabbos and we have HASHEM in our lives we are overjoyed but we still hope and long and pine for a time when we can be closer.