There’s Hope!

This Shabbos is the 9th day of Av. Due to the sanctity of the Shabbos we do not fast or show signs of mourning over the loss of our Temples during the course of Shabbos.
The Tisha B’Av fast is observed on Sunday, beginning with sundown on Saturday night and ending with nightfall on Sunday night.
Our Talmud tells us that the Temple was set ablaze towards evening on the 9th of Av, and the intensity of damage actually occurred on the 10th of Av.
We normally observe the fast on the day which the destruction began, but when this is impossible, such as this year, we fast on the 10th day of Av, the day that our Temples were actually damaged.
There are a few laws and customs of Tisha B’Av that we observe only until midday of the fast. For example, we sit on a low bench as mourners only until midday on Sunday. The Paroches – curtain that hangs in front of the Ark in the Synagogue is removed when Tisha B’Av commences, yet it is restored to its normal position at midday. Talis and Tefillin are not worn as they usually are during the morning service, rather they are donned after midday for the Mincha afternoon service. Certain penitential prayers are omitted from the services as well.
The question is why is there a subtle switch to a lesser degree of mourning after midday?
Aicha – Lamentations – which was written by Jeremiah the prophet is read on Tisha B’Av in a traditional somber tune. In Aicha we find that G-d referred to Tisha B’Av as a Moaid. This seems incongruous, for the word Moaid is usually reserved to describe a holiday. How in the world can Tisha B’Av be associated with a holiday?
Commentators explain, what Jeremiah is capturing is that in a sense, Tisha B’Av has an aspect of holiday to it. This is because instead of G-d unleashing His wrath upon us, His people, for disrespecting His commands, He destroyed His Temple instead and kept us alive. There is some sort of the benefit of a holiday imbedded in Tisha B’Av, which has a bearing on the day. Additionally, our Sages tell us that Moshiach – our Redeemer – will be born on Tisha B’Av. This means that from within the saddest day, our salvation will emerge.
Thus, at midday we change gears and change certain aspects of our mode of mourning to an expression of hope.
Our Sages quantified how we should mourn over our misfortunes. After we go through the necessary mourning process, we gradually lift ourselves out of our state of mourning in order to be able to look forward to a brighter future. If we would continually focus on our misfortunes, we would be in a constant state of depression, which is not what G-d wants.
This resilient attitude is a fundamental ingredient of the Jewish people’s ability to bounce back after suffering, destruction, persecution, pogroms, and Holocausts, throughout our long exile.
My grandfather, Mr. Yehoshua Aaron Herzberg lost his entire family in the holocaust. He himself was spared, and then raised a beautiful family. Life was not easy for him. He lost a young wife, and relocated to the US alone with his three young children.
Yet, with all that he went through, he was an extremely positive person. His faith and belief in G-d was ironclad.
His children and grandchildren recall a beautiful song he always sang, with lyrics taken from the Book of Lamentations. “Chasdai Hashem Ki Lo Samnu..” The kindness of Hashem – G-d never ceases, for His mercy never stops.
Through all the tribulations, he was able to see G-d’s merciful Hand within.
At a special birthday celebration honoring my father, my father spoke and reminisced about the highlights of his life as well as the challenges.
He shared with us that after our mother passed at a young age, a dear colleague noticed that his spirits were down and told him the following insight that assisted him in changing his perspective.
The verse in Psalms says, “One who trusts in G-d, Chesed will surround him.” The Chofetz Chaim explains that one who believes that all that happens is a direct result of G-d’s Will, will be able to see all the Chesed – kindness – that G-d implants within the difficult situation. This will help him cope throughout the challenge. My father continued, “I then began to shift my focus by taking notice of all the Chesed that was surrounding me and this helped me tremendously.” He then began to mention the many kindnesses for which he was grateful to G-d, his family and friends.
This Shabbos is called Shabbos Chazone. The name is taken from the beginning word of the Haftorah, Chazon Yeshayahu —The vision of Isaiah. Isaiah prophesizes and warns the Jews about the upcoming destruction of the Temple if they don’t change their ways. Nevertheless, at the end of the Haftorah he fills us with words of hope. “Zion will be redeemed with justice and will see salvation through Tzadakah.”
The Book of Lamentations warns the Jewish people of the destruction but concludes on a note of optimism, “Bring us back to you, G-d, and we shall return; renew our days as of old.”
May we all merit seeing the rebuilding of the third and everlasting Temple in our time.