Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spirit of the Law: Tisha B'Av

124: 3:“…One doesn’t say Tachanun or Kel Erech Apayim on Tisha B’Av because it is a Moed. “
Rav Yerucham Levovitz, zt”l, explained this very succinctly: “There are moadim of closeness like the shalosh regalim, and there is also a moed of distance, which is Tisha B’Av!”
Rav Wolbe, zt”l, explained further. “In the Medrash Yalkut Yirmiyahu #2 we find: HaKadosh Boruch Hu said, Why was Yerushalayim destroyed? Because you, the Jewish people, said ‘I have not sinned.’ When a person sins and denies his deed, he is living a lie. Since Hashem is a G-d of truth, it is as if the person’s connection to Hashem is cut off with regard to that sin. The more one lives a lie, the greater the area where one lives without a real connection to Hashem. One has no chance of repairing the damage through repentance, since a person who denies what he has done won’t admit that he has done wrong! On the other hand, when a person faces up to the distance that exists between him and Hashem because of his sin, he is living in the truth. Paradoxically, his admission of distance is what connects him to Hashem. This is the distance that is also a moed, a meeting. In this way, a person can repair the damage done and draw closer to his Creator. When we see our many flaws, this is a great reason to be encouraged since we can correct them by taking the proper action.”
We learn this lesson from Kesuvos 13 as well. Chazal bring the verse from Mishlei 30:20: “She eats and wiped her mouth and says, ‘I have not sinned.’” The sin is magnified many times by rationalizing instead of seeing the problem and working toward a solution. Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, zt”l, used to say, “Teshuvah means taking the next step forward to Hashem!”

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