Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tisha B'Av - Mourning, Yearning and Circles

We eat an egg for Seudas Hamafsekes, and at other times of aveius, because the egg symbolizes the circularity of life.

A quarter of a century ago, I sat with an aching back on a hard step on the floor of my shul, unable to find even a marginally comfortable position, listening to Megillas Eichoh with my arms wrapped protectively around my expectant belly, which mere hours after, would help usher forth my bechor - my firstborn son. Last night, two and a half decades later, I once again sat low, though substantially more comfortable, listening to that very same child lein Megillas Eichoh for those assembled. A very small circle was complete.

There are far larger circles for us to ponder. Last night as I listened to the painful, aching words of Eichoh and read the haunting Kinoh written by Rav Schwab, lamenting the horrors of the holocaust, I longed for the completion of this larger circle. We are mandated to mourn the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash on this day and to yearn for its rebuilding. I wonder if both the mandate and the journey wouldn't be easier if we could glimpse the destination.


Shosh said...

im sorry for totally ignoring the point of this post, but at 9 months pregnant myself, all i can think about is that you went to eicha and sat on the floor 9 months pregnant! you are a tzadekes!

Louisa said...

Wait, does this mean that my secret suspician that your firstborn son could be Moshiach is TRUE?????

Gavi said...

Since we are now in the second, more consolation-oriented part of Tisha B'Av, I can write the following.

Perhaps we may hope that in the merit of your teaching your children to mourn the Destruction by reading Yirmiyah's words, they, and you, will witness the Redemption.


You know, Ya'acov Avinu wanted to reveal the "keitz" (i.e. when the final Redemption would occur) to his sons, but his ru'ach hakodesh left him momentarily, leaving them, and us, in the dark. The only thing we have to go on is the gemara in Sanhedrin where it says that the moshiach quotes the possuk in Tehillim in answer to the question of when he is coming: "Today, if you listen to His voice."

I think, in the spirit of the day, I can share something that would be politically incorrect on most other days. I read in the name of Rav Hamburger, quoting Rav Weissmandel, that one of the reasons German Jewry had a high proportion of Holocaust escapees/survivors was because of their hakpada on mitzvos bein adam lechaveiro (along with not talking during davening - but that's another rant).

As I have commented elsewhere (I think I owe you a write-up involving mekoros and a poem from one of my rebbeim), this blog often provides an example of the type of practical ahavas yisroel that we as a people need in order to rebuild the bais hamikdash...

G6 said...

Shosh -
When you're 9 months pregnant, nothing's easy... B'shaah Tova.

Louisa - Tisha B'Av was actually on Shabbos 25 years ago. We have more than once jokingly referred to this child as "Moshiach Nidcha" ;)

Gavi -
Thanks you for your comments. I look forward to any and all further submissions :)

BLD said...

Does he lein for the tzibur or at home ? Yes Klaf or No Klaf ?

Louisa said...

Gavi, I hate to say this but I am saddened by Rav Hamburger's comment as quoted here. I don't find it in the least bit consoling - in fact, I find it one of the most hurtful things I have heard in a long time. I expect better of those supporting the ongoing heritage of the b'nei Ashkenaz than to imply (if subtly) that eastern Jews are, on the whole, inferior people. I also wonder about the proportion of reform and assimilated German Jews who survived and escaped as a result of having more money than some of the poorer eastern Jews. I wonder if anyone has done a real study of their wealth, and their fates. With all due respect, this type of thinking does make me think a bit about the book of Iyov, and Hashem's answer to those three friends who insist that Iyov must have sinned, in order to have been thus tested.

G6 said...

He lined for a tzibbur without a klaf.

YDL said...

Actually, I hate to point this out but similar comments are made about all different types of Jews. That is how we learn from each other. We all have our own positive and negative character traits. German Jewry is known to be both very honest in business dealings and quiet in Schul. This has lead many Gedolim to state that this is the reason why "only" 1/3 of German Jewry was destroyed and why about 90 percent of European Jewry in general was destroyed. It is a mussar lesson that should be taken at face value. R' Breuer Zt"l used to say, "Glatt Kosher? Glatt Yosher!" and wrote about the honesty of German Jewry in various essays and their decorum in schul. He points out that these are not supposed to be character traits of German Jews but of all Jews. It is not meant to degrade others; rather it is meant to show others that they should also be scrupulously honest in business and quiet in schul. The same statement has been said about Sephardic Jewry...The reason the Holocoust (in general) did not directly affect them is because they have such kavod for teffila. Eastern Jewry certainly has, in the past several hundred years, excelled in other areas - a well known one would be the Yeshiva system. (Although we can be quite proud of our own system). Yet, while we can learn from them, they can surely learn from us. If you think that R' Hamburger made up the story (for some strange reason) then you can check it out here: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2008/07/10/r-michoel-ber-weissmandl-on-honesty-and-the-holocaust/. I don’t believe that R’ Bodner (author of Halachos of Other People’s Money) is a Yekke, although I could be wrong. I would like to point out that R’ Weissmandl was not a German Jew; he was born in Hungary.

Louisa said...

YDL if you are up to it and wouldn't mind dialoging with me off-blog, I would actually like to understand this. I am shocked to learn that it is de rigeur and ok to reason out like this from groups of Jews. I really happened to have studied a little of Iyov on Tisha b'Av and was impressed all over again by how wrong it is to presume to understand s'char v'onesh, even as we are enjoined to believe in it. But I see now that I am actually ignorant about the real way in which such reasoning is mutar or assur. Seriously I would be extremely grateful if you could email me. I tried to put my email in the comment here.

Anonymous said...

Re. Gavi's statement:
"one of the reasons German Jewry had a high proportion of Holocaust escapees/survivors was because of their hakpada on mitzvos bein adam lechaveiro."

This is utter nonesense.
First: Many Geman Jews "escaped" through emigration between the years 1933-1939. The reason that they did so was because they were systematically persecuted by the Nazi regime. Unlike Jews in Eastern Europe who had the Nazi's suddenly thust upon them - German Jews had to deal with years of (increasing) persecution and fear which resulted in a huge wave of emigration. In 1933 about 500,000 Jews lived in Germany. By the outbreak of war - only about 165,000 remained.

Of those Jews who were in Germany during the war years - only about 5,000 survived. So by my reckoning -Jews in Germany during the war were murdered at a rate of about 95%.

My point here - is simply that the statement that German Jews had the "zchus" to escape Germany because of their exacting fullfilment of mizvot bein adam l'chavero - is both wrong (historically) and offensive.

Anonymous said...

There are always those who like to see things in black and white through the dry facts of History...and there are those that know how to use historical facts to see things in a deeper way. R’ Weissmandl was definitely a person who: 1) lived through it, and 2) had that deeper insight into life and History.