Mourning the Loss of Potential by Michael Winner/7/23/2015 With the arrival of the baby, for the first time, we are a “boy family.” I’ve been wondering if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I happen not to like boys. They're useless, dirty, don’t listen, obnoxious, etc. However, I’ve seen that generally, when they grow older, they’re good to have around (and I’m starting to see that as well). Girls on the other hand are fine when they are young. They are cleaner, they help out, and they will listen to you. Of course, when they get older, they become emotional time-bombs, and remain that way forever. So this is part of the “back and forth” I was having in my head. That ended two days ago, when my wife told me what happened when I was in kollel. It seems there was a fly that was bothering the baby, so somehow, my six-year-old was able to swat it on the floor, where it landed on its back. Of course, he had to finish the job and squish it with his foot. Naturally, he wasn’t wearing any shoes. After “the smoosh,” he picked off the dead fly from his sock, looked at it, and proceeded to chase the girls around the room with it. There is no longer a question in my mind: boys are better.Rav Shimshon Pincus writes, “Tisha B’Av is a day of mourning, as reflected in its halachos. Over whom does one mourn? Not over a person who fell sick! Mourning is only over someone who died. “Let’s try to understand who died, over whom we are mourning. Did Yerushalayim die? Did the Beis HaMikdash die? Certainly not. The Zohar says that Hashem swore He will not enter the heavenly Yerushalayim until the Jewish people enters the earthly Yerushalayim (Zohar, Naso 147b). The heavenly Yerushalayim exists; the Beis HaMikdash exists. It is being held in storage above, where it is waiting, ready to come to us. “So perhaps we are mourning over the Jewish people? This can’t be either, because the Jewish people survived, and will live forever. And if you say we are mourning over Dovid HaMelech, over the Davidic Kingdom, this, too, is not so. ‘Dovid Melech Yisroel chai v’kayam!’ (Rosh Hashanah 25a). “So who died? Who are we mourning for? We are forced to say that we are mourning over ourselves. Each person is mourning over his own life that perished!” What does Rav Pincus mean “over his own life that perished”? My Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Asher Rubenstein, used to say that after 120 years, we will all go up and they will show us two movies. One movie will be our life as we led it. The second movie will be about what our life COULD have been had we used all our potential that He gave us. We mourn over Tisha B’Av because we mourn the loss of potential, and the continuous loss of potential that we experience in exile. To put this into better perspective: Around a year ago, I was having trouble learning a particular halacha in the Shulchan Aruch. The Shulchan Aruch was clear, however, I was having issues with some of the commentaries. I went to a friend to help me out on it, and after pointing me in the right direction, he remarked, “It’s amazing when you think about it. Here we are learning ‘The Shach’ and ‘The Taz’ and other works. For many of them, they lived in times of turmoil and were being chased from one land to another. They experienced many troubles, yet they were able to produce important works that are being learned 400 years later. Yet, we are sitting in an air-conditioned beis medresh in relative comfort, with homes and food on our tables, and we are racking our brains trying to understand them!” Perhaps by using the next nine days to think about where we are holding in life and what our potential really is, we can better use Tisha B’Av, and more importantly, better ourselves for the future.Have a meaningful Tisha B'Av.