The Three Weeks — Rectifying Judgment

The Three Weeks is the most mournful time of the year for us. The closer we get to the Ninth of Av, the more these mourning restrictions intensify. So what is the purpose of our mourning during this time? Our Sages teach us that the purpose if to stir us to t’shuva, repentance.

Rabbi Natan teaches us:

The essence of the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, came about through blemished judgment, as it states, “You who turn judgment to wormwood” (Amos 5:7). Not only did the generation of the Destruction fail to do justice, they damaged [the attribute of] justice, thereby enabling Nevuchadnetzar to gain control over that attribute.

T’shuva, repentance, comes about through justice. When a person practices hitbodedut, person prayer, and scrutinizes one’s deeds, judging oneself and arousing oneself to return to Hashem, one avoids having to be judged … because “When there is judgment below, there is no judgment Above, in Heaven” (Midrash Tanchuma, Mishpatim 5)…

The Destruction [of the Temple] came about through blemished judgment. Therefore, we must now do t’shuva and rectify this by judging ourselves, and fasting and refraining from pleasurable activities, in order to annul the judgment on High…

The most important aspect of mourning is to reflect on one’s own actions, and to understand that they were the cause of the Destruction. As it states, “Any generation in which the Beit HaMikdash is not rebuilt is considered as if they had destroyed it” (Yerushalmi, Yoma, 1:1). We must mourn our own sins and cry over them very much, and do a thorough soul-searching. In this way, we will merit the building of the Beit HaMikdash, for “Whoever mourns over Yerushalayim will also merit to see its rejoicing” (Taanit 30).

Likutei Halakhot, Ko’ach v’Harsha’ah 3:6-9

Each of us, according to our sins, has a share in the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple. However, rather than throwing us into despair, we must realize that we can correct this. As Rebbe Nachman says, “If you believe breaking is possible, believe fixing is possible” (Likutei Moharan II: 112). Each of us, according to how we judge ourselves and merit to correct our deeds, has a share in the future rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, speedily in our days, through the rectification of the misdeeds of each of us!

Based on Likutei Halakhot and Beyond Time, by Erez Moshe Doron, The Three Weeks

Weeping over the Destruction of the Temple

The destruction of the Temple was essentially caused by forgetfulness, that was caused by the evil eye that was jealous of Israel and led them astray. This is why we must weep during the Three Weeks, especially on the 9th of Av, over the destruction of the Temple. “My eye, my eye, pours out water” (Lamentations 1:16). As King David said after Absolom’s evil eye fell on him, “Then perhaps Hashem will see my eye,” (II Samuel 16:12), where Rashi comments, “the tears of the eye.” We also read there, “David … went up weeping … and all the people who went up with him … were weeping” (ibid 15:30).

This correspond to, “My tear was my bread … These i remember and I pour out my soul” (Tehillim 42:4). Through tears, we subdue the veil eye, which causes forgetfulness. Then, after weeping profusely, we attain memory, as in “These I remember.”

The kinot (lamentations) of the Three Weeks and the 9th of Av are a tikkun (soul rectification), in order to merit t’shuva (repentance). This is why we conclude the reading of Eikha (the Book of Lamentations) repeating the verse, “Hashiveinu (Return) us, Hashem, to You.”

By subduing the evil eye with our tears, we can erase forgetfulness, allowing us to remember Olam HaBa (The World to Come), through which we will be able to return to Hashem.  Hence, our main intention in weeping during the reading of the kinot is in order to arouse Hashem’s compassion to bring us back to Him.

Based on Likutei Halakhot, Orach Chaim, Birkhot haR’ia u’Vrakhot P’ratiot 5, available in Hebrew/English Edition Orach Chaim II, Part II, Author: Reb Noson  -Translation – Keren Yisrael Ber Odesser.

Forgetfulness and The Three Weeks

Rebbe Nachman’s teachings in Likutei Moharan I:54 correspond to the Three Weeks, during which we mourn over the destruction of the Temple. The main purpose for a person coming into this world is to remember Olam Haba (the World to Come). This world is empty and meaningless, a passing shadow, a disappearing cloud. A person’s entire life is frustration and pain, and one gains nothing from all one’s efforts [in the material world]. A person has come into this world for nothing other than to be refined in this world for the eternal goal of Olam Haba. One must always remember this eternal goal, and constantly bind one’s thoughts to Olam Haba. But the evil eye is always trying to overpower the person, and one forgets [about Olam Haba], which is what caused the destruction of both the First Temple and the Second Temple.

For memory comes mainly from the k’dusha (holiness) of the Land of Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple. The main revelation of G-dliness is there, and there more than anywhere else can one remind oneself of Olam Haba

The memory is according to the person, the place, and the day. On any day, in any place, anyone in the world can always remember the World to Come, Olam Haba, if a person focuses one’s heart on it and does not fool oneself.

[Hashem set up within creation that the three dimensions of time, person, and place correspond with each other. For example, on the holiest day of the year (Yom Kippur), the holiest person (the high priest), would enter the holiest place (Holy of Holies).] Hence, the Temple is the root of holiness of the person, of place, and of time. The holiness of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel comes from there, and is drawn into all places, all people, and all days of the year.

A person will be able to remind oneself [of Olam Haba] every day, in all places, through which one returns [from shuv, to return, as in t’shuva, repentance] to G-d and does His will. Regarding the Temple, we read, “My eyes and heart will be there” (I Kings 9:3), corresponding to the eyes and heart. This corresponds to a “good eye,” which is the vitality of the heart, as opposed to the “evil eye,” which is the death of the heart, see LM I:54. Through correcting one’s eyes and heart, one is spared from forgetfulness.

However, the evil eye was very jealous of the greatness that the Jewish People possessed while in their Land and when the Temple was standing. Eventually it overpowered the people and cast them into forgetfulness of their ultimate goal and thus sinned. On account of forgetfulness, leading to sin, we were exiled from our Land, the Temple was destroyed, and continues to stand destroyed on account of our many sins, since we are unable to remind ourselves properly of Olam Haba (the World to Come) and l’shuv (to return) to G-d.

During these Three Weeks, may Hashem help us to begin to remember Olam Haba at all times and to remember our true purpose in coming down to this world, and may we all see the coming of the Final Redemption and of the Righteous Mashiach, and the rebuilding of our Final Temple, speedily, in our days! … Amen

English Likutei Halakhot, Vol 4, Orach Chaim II, Part 2, Birkhot haR’ia u’Vrakhot P’ratiot 5, Author: Reb Noson  -Translation – Keren Yisrael Ber Odesser

The 17th of Tamuz and Forgetfulness

The last message to the Jewish People, in Malachi 3:22, was, “Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant.” Rebbe Nachman reveals that when the first letter of these words (Zichru Torat Moshe) are rearranged, they spell “Tamuz” (Likutei Moharan I:217).

The question we should ask is, “What is the connection between remembering the Torah and the month of Tamuz?” On the 17th of Tamuz, Moshe descended from Mount Sinai with the Tablets of the Covenant. When he saw the people had built the Golden Calf, he cast the Tablets down and shattered them. Our Sages taught that “If the first Tablets would not have been broken, the Torah would never be forgotten by the Jewish People” (Eruvin 54).

Rebbe Nachman teaches that in Tamuz we must rectify forgetfulness. In order to shed light on this, we must look at the source of forgetfulness, the sin of the Golden Calf. After having just experienced Hashem’s revelation on Mount Sinai, the people grew impatient waiting for Moshe to return and cried out to Aharon, “Make us a god!”

This was a terrible mistake. “You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness” (Shemot 20:3). This is avoda zara, foreign worship, idolatry.

It was not only then that people crave to bring Hashem down in physical form. This tendency is what prevents us from approaching Hashem and experiencing the true, inner essence of His Torah.

Rebbe Nachman states:

Torah is spiritual, and only those who are pure and honest, and whose intellect is spiritual will be able to grasp the entire Torah without forgetting anything. For spirituality is not restricted by the limitations of space; therefore, the entire Torah can spread and settle in a person’s mind.

However, one who reduced the words of the Torah into physical matter causes the Torah to assume physical proportions — according to what can fit one’s mind, and no more. If one wants to achieve more, one will necessarily lose what was already there. As we see with physical matter, that when you fill a vessel that is already full, the contents spill out. This is the source of forgetfulness.

This is the meaning of “The Book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth… In other words, be careful not to attribute any physicality to the Torah.

Likutei Moharan 110

In order to repair forgetfulness, we must be attached to Hashem while learning Torah. We can sit and study Torah all day long, but if we lose sight of the fact that we are learning Torah to understand Hashem and His greatness better, and to draw closer to Hashem, studying Torah becomes no different that studying any secular wisdom, G-d forbid. Then, we can forget the Torah we have learned…

Based on, Beyond Time, by Erez Moshe Doron