I Just Don’t Feel Sad On Tisha B’Av
Here we are again. Another Tisha B’Av and we’re still here. By ‘here’, I mean we’re still away from our Beit Hamikdosh, our Holy Temple. We’re still away from living in our land as it was meant to be lived in. On Tisha B’Av the custom is to fast and fasting is not easy for me. My gut reaction to the 9th of Av is that I just want to get through the day. I’ll be looking at the clock constantly, counting down the hours and minutes till I can eat something. I only hope that Moshiach will be here next year and I won’t have to go through another whole night and a day of this fasting business.
Problem is, my attitude doesn’t bring Moshaich closer. Why can’t I get into the mourning and the sadness over the loss of the Temple? Maybe it’s because I don’t miss what I never had. I never saw the Temple, and I don’t know anyone who did so they could tell be how beautiful it really was, what it was like having G-d openly revealed in their midst. When the second Temple was built, the young people rejoiced. The older folks who remembered the first Temple in all its glory, were extremely sad. The new Temple that stood before them paled in comparison to the Temple they remembered.
I just don’t know what I’m missing. So what should I be thinking about on Tisha B’Av?
As A Jew, Why Am I Still In Exile?
After thousands of years, G-d has not brought back the Beit HaMikdosh. Why? What’s His problem? Our communities have plenty of Torah learning. Tremendous acts of chessed (kindness) are performed daily. Jewish people are trying to keep G-d’s laws as best they can. So what’s wrong? I can’t presume to say I know the answer because, unfortunately, G-d has not yet informed me of His plan for creation. But self introspection tells me that I must be doing something that’s not right, something that He is not pleased with.
Learning From Our Ancestors
During the time of King David, there were people who were giants in Torah learning. The generation kept G-d’s laws to the letter. However, sometimes when going out to war, they would lose to the enemy. In contrast, the generation of King Ahab, who were idol worshippers, would go out to war and win many battles. Our Sages say that although King David’s generation were Torah scholars, they lacked love for one another. There was slander and fighting among them. The generation of King Ahab, although they were idolaters, had no gossipmongers among them and they felt a sense of unity with their brethren.
Why Wait Till There’s a Tragedy?
Before a tragedy happens, people seem to be preoccupied with their own affairs. No one is reaching out to the next person. However, when tragedy strikes, people come out in droves to help and console. I see this time and again, globally, nationally, in my community, and in me. I’m busy. So busy that I forget, or don’t take the time to notice, that there may be a new person in my community. If I happen to notice a new family in my synagogue do I think maybe they would appreciate some kind words of greeting? Maybe they need to know where the prayer books are, or where the restroom is? They have yet to make new friends, so maybe they would enjoy being invited for a meal on Shabbat or Yom Tov? Maybe someone I know would appreciate a phone call just to say hi. But I don’t reach out because I just don’t think about anyone other than my family and me.
The Scourge Of Indifference
Our Sages tell us that the second Holy Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. What’s worse than baseless hatred is indifference. At least with baseless hatred there is some kind of relationship, although not a good one. With indifference, simply not caring, there’s no relationship at all. Is a cold peace better than fighting? Maybe, but both are hurtful.
When my kids were small, I would try to give them an idea of how G-d feels when He looks at His creations. I’d say ‘What if you built a big, beautiful city of Legos and you put all the little people figures in it. Then you watched as your Lego city came to life. But all your little people are fighting with one another, hurting one another, or ignoring one another. There’s so much strife and disunity that eventually the walls of your Lego city are broken and fall down. How would you feel?’ My kids said they would feel sad. I told them that’s how G-d feels.
When G-d looks upon so much indifference in the world, where no one cares about another, it makes Him very sad. Each year He mourns that He cannot yet bring back the Holy Temple, the place that will unify all mankind, the place that will be a place of prayer for everyone.
I can’t wait for the next tragedy (I hope one never occurs again). Instead of thinking about food this Tisha B’Av, I need to think about looking for mitzvos. I need to think about reaching out to others. Maybe, just maybe, Moshiach will get a little bit closer.