The Gates of Tears

We learn in the Talmud that since the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple), the gates of t’filla (prayer) have been locked (Bava Metzia 59a). There are no more paths leading to heaven through t’filla. The destruction has caused a certain separation between us and Hashem.

However, this separation is only in regards to the gates of t’filla. The Sages continue to tell us that the gates of tears have never been locked. If we merit to shed tears before Hashem, our prayers will penetrate all the way to Hashem. We are, obviously, not to force our tears. If they flow fine, if not, not.

Based on Rebbe Nachman’s Soul

Yearning for the Temple

As song as we continue to lack our rebuilt Beit HaMikdash (the Temple), we must feel genuine sorrow over its destruction. Tikkun Chatzot, the midnight lamentations, is our prescribed daily prayer for expressing our yearning for our Holy Temple.

During the Three Weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av), the days in which the destruction took place, we increase our mourning. On Tisha B’Av, the grief is at its peak, as we fast, sit on the ground, cry, and recite lamentations.

Our Sages tell us that from the time of the destruction of the Temple it is forbidden to laugh with a full heart. However, we must not allow ourselves to fall into sadness, either.

When we cry, we must be careful to cry only for the right reasons. Our tears should be tears of yearning and not of grievance and complaint, G-d forbid. We must be very careful to not fall into needless crying, which causes all destruction.

Crying and mourning during the Three Weeks is not the end in itself. It is to remind us to strive to rectify the reasons for the destruction of our Beit HaMikdash, to know what we lost due to our sins, and to long for Hashem. The main point is to repent and remedy the root cause of the destruction, needless crying and complaining to Hashem.

Here, t’shuva (repentance) is to stop our needless crying and complaining, and to constantly feel gratitude to Hashem for all that He does for us. During the Three Weeks and during our daily Tikkun Chatzot prayers, we cry and yearn for the lack our rebuilt Beit HaMikdash. The rest of the time, we need to be happy and thank Hashem for all the good He constantly does for us.

Based on The Garden of Gratitude, By Rabbi Shalom Arush

Three Blemishes — Three Weeks

During these Three Weeks, we are mourning the destruction of the First and Second Temples, over the exile of our people from the Land, and over the empowerment of the evil kingdoms of the world, the epitome of which is the seed of Amalek. This is why there are Three Weeks, for we are mourning over these three points that were blemished on account of our sins — the three mitzvot upon entering the Land of Israel, namely, eradicating the seed of Amalek, appointing a king, and constructing the Temple.

Due to our many sins in the past, for which we have still not fully repented, we have been unable to fully eradicate the seed of Amalek. Now, the filth of Amalek spreads and intensifies every day. We have been unable to reveal the glory of Hashem in the world. Our influence has diminished to the point that we still have no king. Most importantly, the Temple, the crown of our heads, has been destroyed due to our many sins, and due to our failure to fully repent, it has still not been rebuilt.

The main tikkun (rectification) during these Three Weeks corresponds to t’shuva (repentance). We cry and mourn during these Three Weeks over our failure in the past to properly fulfill the three mitzvot Hashem commanded of us when we entered the Land of Israel. We also cry and mourn over the fact that we have still not fully repented for them.

May we, during these Three Weeks, properly and completely repent for our three failures and merit complete rectification, through which we will finally and completely eradicate Amalek, welcome the coming of our true Mashiach, and see the rebuilding of our Temple, speedily in our days! Amen.

Based on Likutei Halakhot, Orach Chaim I, Shabbat 7, by Rabbi Natan of Breslov

Still Crying

In Parshat Shelakh Lekha, after the spies returned and slandered the Land of Israel, and the People of Israel cried out and complained bitterly, “Then the Holy One, blessed be He, said: You have cried for no reason, I will give you something to cry about for generations!” Needless crying triggered a devastating punishment of destruction, hardship, suffering, and exile that continues until today.

Both the First and Second Temples were destroyed, the Inquisition, pogroms, the Holocaust, and more, all because our people needlessly cried one night? The punishment appears rather shocking. The answer is simple — Hashem despises ingratitude more than any other sin.

Hashem does thousands of kindnesses for us every day. Hashem personally oversees every aspect of our lives. By crying and complaining we show ingratitude to Hashem; hence the punishment for baseless crying is the greatest of all.

We must understand that the reason the punishment for the crying in the desert continues is because we are still needlessly crying and complaining today! We continue to cry and complain about everything that doesn’t go according to our desires.

Today’s exile and the reason we still do not have our Temple is not because of Hashem’s anger thousands of years ago in the desert, G-d forbid. It is because Hashem desires that we rectify this sin and completely uproot ungratefulness from our lives. “I will give you something to cry about for generations” means that as long as we, Am Yisrael, continue to cry and complain, dinim (stern judgments) are awakened, just like the dinim the crying in the desert caused. If we would uproot this terrible trait of ingratitude, the Redemption would come.

Based on The Garden of Gratitude, by Rabbi Shalom Arush

Tears of Hope

B’simkha Yegilun Kol Hayom” (In Your Name they will rejoice all the day), is an acronym for the word BiKHiYa –weeping. (Likutei Moharan I: 175)

The Three Weeks, The Nine Days, and especially Tisha B’Av are hard times for all of us. It is a time of hard judgments and retribution. On Tisha B’Av we mourn over both the First and Second Temples. Yet, despite this, we do not recite Tachanun on this day. It is called a festival, as in, “They declared me a festival” (Eikha 1:15).

Hidden within its very essence, Tisha B’Av is mamash a day of hope. The fact that we mourn testifies to our belief that we will one day be redeemed. We all know that crying over the past is useless. Yet, on Tisha B’Av, our Sages tell us to cry. So these tears cannot be out of despair. They must be out of a hope that one day our deliverance will come.

In the very center of our pain, there really is a great hope. It is correct to call Tisha B’Av a festival, as it says, Hashem-Tzva’ot says, ‘The fast days of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months are to become times of joy, gladness and cheer for the house of Yehudah” (Zechariah 8:19). We do not recite Tachanun on Tisha B’Av because deep within the sadness is the hope of redemption.

Rabbi Mordechai of Slonim writes:

When Pharaoh’s daughter found baby Moshe in the Nile, the verse relates: ‘And they saw the child, and behold, it was a crying boy. And they said, this is one of the Hebrew children’ (Exodus 2:6). The verse seems to imply that from the very manner of his cries they could tell that he was a Hebrew. This is because his cries had a hopeful ring to them. They heard his cries, and realized that this was a Jew.” (Mayanot HaNetzach)

Base on In All Your Ways, Collected Discourses of Rabbi Yaakov Meir Schechter

Hashem Has Not Forgotten Us

We enter into the month of Av, still in exile, still without our Temple, and still weeping. The Beit HaMikdash was so much more than just another building. Our Temple was a microcosm of the entire world! As King David says, “How shall we sing Hashem’s song in a foreign land?” (T’hillim 137:4) Our people have suffered so much since then, to name only a few, the Inquisition, the pogroms, the Holocaust, and now the annihilation through assimilation.

In order to continue forward, we must strengthen our emuna that Hashem has not forgotten us and that we are still deeply connected to Him. After so long and so much pain and suffering, we may begin to doubt our status with Hashem.

Rebbe Levi Yitzchak admits that we are still in exile, thrown out of Hashem’s House, and kicked out of His Land. Although it appears as if we have lost Hashem’s love, yet, deep down inside, we know He still loves us. How do we know? Because we have never stopped receiving Hashem’s love letters.

Deep within the darkness of this long exile, our souls still cry out to Hashem, responding to the daily call from Him that has never ceased, “Return, My wayward children” (Yirmiyahu 3:24). How do we know that Hashem is still calling out to us to return to Him? We just need to look around us to see how many of our people are returning to Hashem — from ba’alei t’shuva, to converts, to those born and raised within the fold.

Although it may appear as if, G-d forbid, Hashem has forgotten us, He is still calling us. Hashem has never stopped sending us love letters to return to Him, and our people are responding! As we enter another month of Av, may we strengthen our emuna in Hashem and help those who may still be living in the darkness of this long exile to hear Hashem’s call, “Return, My wayward children!”

Based on Sparks from Berditchov, Based on the Teachings of  Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov, by Yaakov Klein, Parshas Matos

The Death of Youths

We have found that the deaths of youths is as difficult as the destruction of the Temple. (Eikha Rabba 1;44)

The Ben Ish Hai explains to us that when a young person dies, especially a righteous one, people have questions about Divine justice. “How could this young life be taken away?” If they knew the secrets of reincarnation, they would stop having doubts.

A person who is entering the world for the first time and is righteous will definitely live out their 70 years. But not all of us are here for the first time. When a person dies without fulfilling one’s mission here, G-d forbid, the soul may be sent back again. Then, as soon as the person merits completing their tikkun (soul correction), there mission is complete and they immediately depart.

Like the death of youths, the destruction of the Temple arouses questions about Divine justice. “How could such a holy place be destroyed?” If they truly knew the purpose, they would cease to wonder…

Based on If I Forget Thee, From the Writings of Hacham Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad