On Tisha B’Av at night I received a message from our friends Richie and Julie Rutta about the birth of a grandson, and then in the morning I received a text from my sister Chayala and Akiva Gonter about the birth of a granddaughter.

Tisha B’Av is a sad day, yet how can you not have feelings of joy with such wonderful news?

To strike a balance and to be able compartmentalize our feelings is really the story of our lives.

When one loses a loved one, they recite a blessing over the sad news, “Blessed is the Judge of truth.” The Halacha indicates that if at the same time one receives a bountiful inheritance through the loss, they recite the Shehechayanu blessing – which is recited at happy occasions. Again, we are taught and conditioned to hold some type of balance between the sad and the good.

Rabbi Yaacov Weinberg o.b.m. remarked, “You think it was easy for Meshushelech to get through his day? Yes, he lived the longest, for 969 years, yet, outliving many of his relatives, it was not uncommon that his day consisted of news of the birth of a descendant, a family celebration and the death of a dear one as well.” He needed to balance his emotions.

The Mirrer Yeshiva in Poland had over 300 students. During World War II they made a miraculous escape through Russia to Japan and then to Shanghai.

During their 5 year stay in Shanghai they had limited knowledge of the horrors that were going on in Europe, where their loved ones were martyred.

I remember reading that when the sad word came of the fate of their relatives, the students ripped their clothing and sat on the floor and bitterly sobbed and wept for some time. Their Shiva was shortened since the news reached them long after the passing of their loved ones. Then, the holy Rabbi Chatzkel Levinson o.b.m. who was their spiritual mentor, ordered them to get up from mourning. He then began to sing a spirted song whereupon the entire student body grabbed hands and danced amid tears. A short while later, the students were amazingly able to return to their studies.

In this week’s Parsha, Moshe speaks to the nation and reminisces about G-d’s Revelation at Mount Sinai which had occurred forty years earlier. Moshe tells the nation that they heard the Ten Commandments from G-d Himself and then Moshe repeated the Ten Commandments. Not one single person objected and claimed it never happened.

The fourth of the Ten Commandments is the Mitzvah for us to observe and remember the Holy day of Shabbos. Shabbos is a day when a Jew makes no calculations what he could have earned or benefited from doing that which is prohibited to do or perform on Shabbos. A Jew has the ability to disengage, because this is what we were instructed by G-d.

Shabbos is when we are totally devoted to G-d and therefore Shabbos instills in us belief. This spiritual infusion of blessing carries over to the rest of the week when we engage and conduct ourselves in our activities.

I recently watched an interview with Mrs. Pearl Beinisch, a holocaust survivor.

She describes how she arrived at Aushwitz on a Friday with a group of around two thousand girls. There was a delay in the ‘selection’ processes that determined their fate until the middle of the night. They were surprisingly told us that were not going directly to the gas chambers; they were going a bit further on in the same building to the shower area.

“As day broke, we were surprised to hear friendly voices, calling out the Jewish names of the girls in our immediate group. We looked up and saw it was Zslia Orlan, a teacher we had in the Bais Yaacov seminary in Crakow. She, together with Tillie – the white angel of Aushwitz, were greeting us. Tillie was known as such because she risked her life for others, giving her rations to others. She was dubbed the white angel because angels don’t eat and Tillie gave her food away.

“Zsila and Tillie who were already in Aushwitz greeted us with a smile and a warm Good Shabbos. We looked at them and wondered, ‘how can one say Good Shabbos in this living purgatory, while seeing the columns of smoke and fire and the most disgusting stench of humans being burned?’

“But Tsila still remained smiling and said, ‘Good Shabbos girls, you are alive! You are pure humans. You are different, not like these human beasts.’ Tsila continued, ‘You are different – you believe – and you believe in Shabbos!’ We then understood, and said, ‘Good Shabbos’ back to Tsila.

Mrs. Beinisch continued, “This is what kept us going the entire time we were in Aushwitz. ‘We are different, we are pure, we have dignity and we felt free because of it. Nothing the Nazis did to demoralize us was effective – because we had the dignity of a human being and we internally felt free. This indominable spirit we had continually baffled the Nazis.’”

This is the balance that our brethren displayed in the harshest situations.

Each Shabbos we display our strength to balance our lives when we disengage from the world. It is a time when we feel free and able to reflect on our dignity and purpose. And it is when our essence, purity, holiness and spirit shines!