I had to speak to one of my non-religious neighbors yesterday.
As I walked into his home, I saw a few photos of his daughter’s wedding from two years ago. You know, the standard wedding photos, when they’re looking at each other all googly-eyed or they’re walking in nature together, in some “zen” moment. I really couldn’t understand it. How is marriage ANYTHING like that? Has ANYBODY had a “zen” moment with their spouse? When was the last time your spouse looked at you in some “googly eyed” way?
Sorry. That’s not reality.
Really, marriage is like tag-team wrestling. One goes in to fight the battles, whether they be children, schools, the electric company's stealing money from you, children, breaking up fights between children, house repairs, children, money issues, more children, etc. You’re both broken, bloody, sweaty, and only dream of being able to get to the ropes to tag your partner so you can take a break.
Zen moments? Yeah, right.
Okay, on to more important things.
It’s taught that the (spiritual) light that was created during the Six Days of Creation was stored away. Hashem did not want those who wish to use it for evil to have any access to it. So, he hid it away for the future, for the righteous to take part of. A bit Kabbalistic, I know. It is also taught that every Moed (holiday), Hashem allows some of that light into our world to allow us to make use of it.
As we know, Tisha B’Av is called a Moed. At first, this seems a bit puzzling, since Tisha B’Av is the “Memorial Day” of the Jewish calendar. However, a deeper look at Tisha B’Av shows us that it’s not simply a “Memorial Day.” Memorial Days are used to commemorate those who died in either wars or national catastrophes. But those are all in the past. They happened. There is nothing we can do to change what occurred or bring back those who were lost. Tisha B’Av is different. We mourn for three weeks, seemingly over all the terrible things that have happened throughout our history, specifically, the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. Yet, when noon arrives, the time the Beis HaMikdash was lit on fire, we begin to arise from our mourning.
Obviously something is not normal here.
Rav Pincus explains that while it is true, we mourn the destructive history our people have had in exile, Tisha B’Av is nonetheless, more than that. We also mourn over what has become (currently) of the Jewish people, as a nation, and our own spiritual state.
Rav Asher Rubenstein used to say that after 120 years, we will go and see two movies. One movie will be our life. The other movie will be what our life should have been had we properly used the gifts Hashem has given us. Our goal is two bring the first movie inline as much as possible with the second one.
Rav Pincus explains that Tisha B’Av is a time of mourning for our own personal selves. All the opportunities we have thrown away. The spiritual state we COULD be in, if we only tried harder. It is a time of putting away all of our excuses and seeing exactly what has become of us.
He explains that Tisha B’Av is called a Moed because it DOES allow us to use this spiritual light. While we might be confused, since Tisha B’Av seems to be a time of darkness, we must remember what light does to darkness. It allows us to see what could not have been seen before. Throughout the year, we try not to focus on our negatives. After all, how can we continue on in life seeing only the negatives. And who really wants to?
However, Tisha B’Av is a time of light. It allows us to see what we are and what we should be. It allows us to have a clearer perception of where we need to direct our lives, especially now that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur will soon be upon us.
When we mourn, we mourn over things that are dead. However, by putting aside our countless excuses and seeing the depths that we have fallen to, we are able to begin to put aside the mourning, even on Tisha B’Av itself. If we use the light of Tisha B’Av, we are proving that we are not dead and we DO have a future, and we CAN build ourselves up. If that is the case, then even in the middle of Tisha B’Av, we can begin to arise and heal our spiritual wounds, to show that our spiritual heart is still beating, and we can and will continue to grow.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and meaningful Tisha B’Av.