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

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 Wailing Wall

“On Mount Zion there shall be a remnant, and it shall be holy. The house of Yaakov shall dispossess those who dispossessed them.” (Obadiah 1:17)

Unlike the rest of the Temple, the Kotel Ma’aravi (the Western Wall) of the Temple Mount was built by King David, who prepared everything needed for the construction of the Temple (Sukah 53a). The Western Wall survived the destruction of both the First and Second Temples, and the Sh’khina (Divine Presence) has never left it (Shir HaShirim Rabba 2:9).

After the First Temple was destroyed, Ezra says, “Grace has been shown from Hashem our G-d to leave us a remnant and give us a peg in His holy place, so that our G-d may add luster to our eyes and give us a bit of sustenance in our bondage” (Ezra 9:8). The Western Wall was the “peg” to show us His intention to return.

And, indeed, it was rebuilt. Then, after the Second Temple was destroyed, the Western Wall was again left, as a sign for us that the Third Temple will be built. As our verse says, “On Mount Zion” — the Temple site — “there shall be a remnant” — the Western Wall — “and it shall be holy,” for the Divine Presence has ever left it, “and the house of Yaakov shall dispossess those who dispossessed them” with the building of the Third Temple.

Based on Birkat Hayyim, Haftarat Vayishlah, as cited in If I Forget Thee: The Ben Ish Hai on The land of Israel, Jerusalem and the Holy Temple


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