Op Ed: Should We Really Mourn On Tisha B’Av?

Op Ed: Should We Really Be Mourning On Tisha B’Av?

Is it really needed that we mourn so strongly on Tisha B’Av? 

The Holy Ruzhiner (R' Yisroel of Ruzhin) went to great lengths to abolish and negate amongst his Chassidim any and all feelings of sadness, even of bitterness. This resulted in some of his Chassidim engaging in all sorts of practical jokes on Tisha B'Av (in order to mitigate the sadness of the day).

They would throw beans at each other. Then they conceived of the following prank: they opened a skylight in the roof of the beis midrash and lowered a net; when someone walked into the beis midrash, they would yank on the rope so that the net fastened itself around him, and then they'd pull him up to the roof. It happened that the Ruzhiner himself walked into the study hall. Those who were up on the roof could not see clearly who was coming in from their vantage point, so — mistaking him for just another Chassid — they pulled him up. As if that wasn't bad enough, when he was half-way to the roof, they suddenly realized to their dismay that they were hoisting up none other than their holy Rebbe! Startled, they lost hold of the rope, and the Rebbe was unceremoniously dumped back to the ground, landing with a thud. The Chassidim, upon learning about what had transpired, were scandalized, and a great tumult arose in town. The Rebbe himself, however, calmed them down.Cried out the Ruzhiner: "Master of the Universe! If Your children are not properly observing Your 'festival,' take it away from them!"

A maskil, a freethinker, once found himself hosted by the Rabbi of the town. The Rabbi, who had experienced the negative results of the anti-religious sentiments of the maskil, was decidedly cold and inhospitable. "I don't understand you," the maskil inquired of the Rabbi. "Aren't you supposedly an observant Jew? What happened to your hachnasas orchim?" The Rabbi turned to his guest and replied: "We learn the guidelines of hospitality from our holy Shabbos, who has various standards for treating her guests. When Chanuka or Purim arrive on a Shabbos, the Shabbos is a most gracious host, offering them choice parts of the leining and davening. When it's a Rosh Chodesh that arrives on Shabbos, why, then the Shabbos turns over the entire Musaf Shmoneh Esrei to the guest. And if it's such an illustrious guest as a Yom Toy, why then the Shabbos turns over even the Shacharis Shmoneh Esrei to her guest, keeping nothing for herself. "But if an unwelcome guest such as Tisha B'Av should arrive on a Shabbos, well then the Shabbos is decidedly inhospitable, telling the guest to please leave, and go instead to some other day!"

 Indeed, there is an undeniable difference between the minhagim of Rosh Hashanah, or Chanukah, and the minhagim of Tisha B'Av. For while all other Yomim Tovim are welcome guests for whom we prepare ourselves joyously, eagerly awaiting their arrival, the "Yom Toy" of Tisha B'Av is a decidedly unwelcome guest.In a Jewish home, one whose presence we would be glad to do without. While Purim is heralded by weeks of preparation and planning and shopping sprees, for mishloach manos and costumes and special theme-oriented Seudas Purim supplies, it hardly seems fitting to go on a month-in-advance shopping spree to make sure we are well supplied with Kinos and low stools and candles (and of course berelach) etc. While a bookshelf in a Jewish home may boast a whole section of Pesach material of all sorts, it hardly seems appropriate to show off our beautiful Kinos editions and other Tisha B'Av paraphernalia. In fact, many Tzaddikim and Chassidim were known to discard (in sheimos of course) their Kinos immediately after Tisha B'Av, although it meant that they ended up purchasing a new one each year. At the end of Tisha B'Av it was unthinkable that the coming Tisha B'Av would be spent in galus! If, to our great sorrow, another Av arrives with us still in a sorry state of exile, then of course we will again observe Tisha B'Av according to all of the prescribed halachos and minhagim. But surely it's not a day that we await or anticipate in any way!If the unhappy day takes place, there are customs and laws that we have to follow, but we would be perfectly agreeable if the Alm-ghty would deprive us of this holiday altogether!

Imagine hearing about a new shul being built that is equipped for all Yomim Tovim and occasions. It has a built in chair for Kiseh Shel Eliyahu for brissin, a roofless room for Sukkos, and a built-in sink near the aron for Birkas Kohanim, etc. The benches are even built in such a way that they can be reversed and serve as low chairs that are just right for Tisha B'Av. You stop and think: Hey! What was that?! Of course, on Tisha B'Av we have rules of what we may sit on and we have to figure out ways to follow them (some more creative and some less so). But is that what you have in mind when designing your shul? For Tisha B'Av? For Galus?! If the time comes, then figure out how to deal with it. But that shouldn't be something to plan for, to design a shul for! [Design a shul, if anything, with built in seatbelts on all the benches, so that when it flies on the clouds to Eretz Yisroel, no one will be endangered by any unexpected turbulence!] Yes, there are minhagim (and halachos) for Tisha B'Av as well, but don't think it's something we're looking forward to. We'll be perfectly agreeable to do without it altogether.

We don't say "Wow, Tisha B'Av is coming up, let's get ready," whether by stocking up on onions (to help open up the tear ducts) or by stocking up for our berelach arsenal. If the sun sets on the unhappy eve, then we duly mourn, but it is with great regret and by lack of choice that we face the prospect of another Tisha B'Av in Galus. We do it with a heartfelt complaint to the One Above: "Since when do You consider us so deserving? Why have you not yet taken back Your 'holiday' from us?" So if you're on the planning committee for the Tisha B'Av camper-counselor baseball game (if you found a Rav lenient enough to permit such a game on such a day), or if you're in charge of scheduling the annual "Buck-buck" competition (if you found a Rav who was drunk enough to permit such an activity on any day), remember that this is not our place nor our position, and it is with the greatest feeling of regret that we associate ourselves with any aspect of this day (including those bizarre minhagim). In the meantime, our entire being is consumed with the eager anticipation for the geula, and bidding a final and permanent farewell to this unwelcome guest. So get out your Bubuzelas, and rev up your excitement, not for the baseball game or the buck-buck tournament, but to herald the imminent arrival of Moshiach, and to proclaim his kingship throughout the world! Uchaim! May the vision of the Beis HaMikdash on Shabbos Chazon awaken us and inspire us to anticipate its imminent rebuilding, through the immediate revelation of Moshiach Tzidkeinu Teikef U'miyad Mamash!!! 

By Rabbi Akiva Wagner
Mashpia of Toronto Yeshiva

Issue 843 • BEIS MOSHIACH 25

1 comment:

  1. Nothing make sense any longer, just impossible to feel the love when Israel is homeless. where is the love supposed to come from now??? real love never ever get's disconected. Never for any reason. YES a parent will discipline their child but never hurt,Kill and destroy. NEVER. NOTHING MAKE SENSE ANY LONGER, Are we alone???