My wife has made a new friend from work. A chassidish woman from Boro Park.
It’s a very interesting relationship. Because on one hand, this woman has very limited interaction with the non-Chassidish Jewish world (in Israel, Chassidim and non-Chassidim are constantly interacting with each other as compared to the US), so in turn, she had certain stereotypes of non-Chassidim. My wife has Chassidish friends here, but not in Boro Park, so, my wife as well had certain stereotypes about Chassidim there. Most of them are not even negative. For example, she was translating every Yiddish word she used for my wife, thinking non-Chassidim don’t know basic Yiddish words.
What they both DO have in common, is an open mind to learn, and the desire to grow.
Rav Shimshon Refoel Hirsch, wrote “The Sixteen Letters," fictional letters between two friends, one frum, one no longer frum, and their views on Judaism. I think my wife and her new friend are writing “The Sixteen Emails," which not only talk about some of their differences, but on how much they have in common, and more importantly, what are the proper ways of growth. It’s interesting, but they both agree, since they have never met each other, and chances are may never meet, they can both be open with each other in ways they cannot be with others. It’s also interesting seeing each side break down the stereotypes of the other, and seeing the open honesty in learning from the other how to grow and raise a growth-oriented family.
Her husband had a sponsored trip to Europe a few weeks ago and put in a little extra money to come to Israel first for a few days. He went to Meron for Shabbos, but on the way, he wanted to stop off with a little package from his wife to mine, and also to thank my wife personally for the relationship, and how much his wife appreciates it.
So, if two women, with two COMPLETELY different backgrounds can make friends with each other, well, there’s a lesson here. When people are growth-oriented, they can push what they THOUGHT aside, and learn many new things instead.
On to Torah!
Most of the time, we don’t “feel” the Three Weeks or Tisha B’Av. A few years ago, we had a war here in Gaza with rockets landing in half of the country and the other half on the brink of it. That brought some “feelings," but it had nothing to do with Tisha B’Av. We don’t feel something that we've never experienced. When we read history books, we understand that during the time of the First Beis HaMikdash, the Jewish people were at their zenith. Good. But what exactly does that mean? We cannot understand it, since it’s something that we have never experienced.
Rav Pincus explains that there were three times that Hashem was the "groom" of the wedding and man served as the "headwaiter." One was Adam and Chava before their initial sin. They both had everything they needed, spiritually and materialistically. If you were to ask Adam if he was the "groom of the wedding," he would reply, “No, I’m just the headwaiter here." Then came the Yetzer Harah and said, “Eat from the Tree of Knowledge, and YOU can be the groom just like Hashem!”
Adam’s sin was that he was saying, “Could You please move over? You’re not the groom anymore. From now on, it’s me. The whole world revolves around me, and is meant to serve me. And You, Hashem, are the Headwaiter."
At that point, man became the center of the world, instead of Hashem. And the results were devastating. Not so much as a punishment, but as a simple result.
When a rich man makes a wedding, the wedding is something we cannot imagine! Forget cakes! There are courses and courses of fresh meats and vegetables. Wines and drinks. Flowers and music. Yet, the poor man, when he makes a wedding? Plastic plates and chicken that breaks the forks when you cut it.
When Hashem is the groom, the wedding is on Hashem’s level. Everybody receives only the best. When man is the groom, then the level of the wedding is moved down to the level of man: disease, poverty, sickness.
Before Adam’s sin, before the sin of the Calf, and during the first Beis HaMikdash, Hashem was the center of the world. Hence, the world was on Hashem’s "level." After man took center stage, the level was lowered.
When we say to Hashem “move over," He does, but the natural results will be devastating.
Rav Pincus once saw an article describing how spiders eat flies. The researcher said, that if we would understand how cruelly the spider ate the fly, the Nazi’s wouldn’t look so bad, yet nobody criticizes the fly. Why? Because that’s it’s nature. Flies eat spiders. Nazi’s kill Jews. It’s all natural.
So when, in the later 1800s and early 1900s, the Jewish world said to Hashem, “Man is the center of the world! Our scientific and humanistic educations are allowing us to attain unprecedented heights. Hashem, move over!” Hashem simply "shrugged" and moved over. And then, nature took over, and Nazis killed Jews. Then we turn around and say, “Where was G-d”???
It is unfortunately natural for us to look at davening and mitzvos as "prices to pay" to the Headwaiter, Hashem, so he will give us good in this world. We daven for Hashem for good health, happy children, and good income. In turn, we expect that he will give it to us. However, even while we do these mitzvos, our mentality is, “Look, I’m davening to you. I’m doing this or that mitzvah. In exchange, please give me…” So, in truth, we are still the center of the world.
By switching our mentalities and saying, “Hashem is the groom, and we are to serve Him,” then things really will change. When He takes the center and we understand our position in this world, then as a result (not so much a reward, but a result), the standards of the world, spiritually and materialistically speaking, will go up. What will bring Moshiach? When we start to make Hashem, instead of Man, the center of the world.
Have a great Shabbos!