Flatbush Tisha B’Av Program Examines Why It Is So Hard For Us to Cry Over the Churban


israel-koselFor over 25 years, Torah Connections, a Brooklyn-based group has organized major lecture programs in Flatbush on both the summer fast days of Sheva Asar B’Tammuz and Tisha B’Av in order to inspire members of the community to have a greater awareness of what we of Jews have lost both spiritual and physically because of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim.

Last ¬†Tisha B’Av the Flatbush gathering that attracted over one thousand participants was held in Kings¬†Terrace. A common theme running through the first lectures was the inability of American-born Jews who have blessed to live in a medina shel chesed that allows us to freely maintain a Torah lifestyle, to develop a sense of proper mourning for the Churban Beis Hamikdosh that has continued for almost 2,000 years.

Rav Pinchos Breuer, then mora d’asra of Agudas Israel Bais Binyomin in Flatbush, quoted from Koheles where Shlomo Hamelech says that there is a time for everything. There is a specific time to laugh and there is a time to cry. Rashi explains that the time for laughing refers to when one attends a simchas chosson v’kallah and tries to bring joy to the new couple. Rav Breuer said that he has attended many chasanas and is convinced that our generation does very well in fulfilling this obligation to laugh.

When Koheles speaks of a time to cry, Shlomo Hamelech is referring to Tisha B’Av and this has in recent generations, Rav Breuer said, become a very difficult task. The obvious question is why is this so? The Rav spoke of how the heilige Chasom Sofer used to cry uncontrollably on Erev Tisha B’Av and managed to fill a cup with his tears. He would then during the suedos hamafsekas, dip his dried bread into the cup before eating it.

Now you might say the Chasom Sofer was a Gadol Hador. But Rav Breuer reported hearing from live witnesses that even ordinary baalei batim in Hungary before the Second World War demonstrated a greater awareness of the Churban Beis Hamikdosh than many of us do today. In many of the Hungarian towns, the rav would during the Nine Days call the townspeople to the beis knesses during the middle of the day and people would close their shops in order to get together and recite tearfully Tikun Chatzos.

Referring to our generation, Rav Breuer said that we like to think of ourselves as being believers in Hashem who have accomplished much, especially since the horrific destruction wrought by the Holocaust. Those who survived can’t themselves believe what has been accomplished today in the Jewish nation. But Rav Breuer noted that despite our impressive accomplishments, something is missing.

Even though we correctly take down the paroches from the Aron Hakodesh, recite the Kinos and come together to learn something about the Churban and this is a siman that we are still alive b’ruchnius with our feelings; yet it so difficult to shed a real tear. Rav Breuer attributed to his partially to the fact that so many of us do not take time every morning to recite the karbonos section in siddur that recalls the order of sacrificial services carried out by the Cohanim. Too many of us jump from the morning brochos directly to Baruch She’amar or Hodu.

The awareness that comes from carefully reciting karbonos made the previous generations more aware of the true loss we suffer from the continued Churban Beis Hamikdosh. In the days before the Holocaust, Jews would during the regular year drench their siddurim with tears. If we today have lost the ability to cry when davening, especially those parts of the Shemonah Esrai that refer specifically to yearning for the Beis Hamikdosh, how are we supposed to cry on Tisha B’Av.

Rav Baruch Rabinowitz of Mesivta Ateres Yaakov of Long Island began by noting that we are again sitting on the floor. “For 1940 years, we have sat on the floor. Why? Have we really cried for the Beis Hamikdosh, for the Churban Yerushalyaim, for the eigel of the Midbar and the eigel of Yeravim, for the exile of Yehuda and the exile of the Ten Tribes?

“Have we cried sufficiently for the Crusades and for the pogroms and for the inquisition and for the Holocaust? Have we shed tears for those millions who died al Kiddush Hashem throughout the generations? Have we cried hard enough as the Midrash says to make the heavens and earth cry with us? Have we cried enough to make the people around us cry? With this large assemblage of people who gathered together to recite Kinos, did we collectively use up just one box of tissues?”

Rav Rabinowitz challenged the audience by asking are we covered up with so many layers that we can’t cry for Yerushalayim? What can we do individually and collectively to turn this day around into the Yom Tov that it is supposed to be. If we don’t mourn properly, are we going to be among the four-fifths who are not going to see the ultimate simcha of Yerushalayim?

Rav Herschel Welcher, Rav of Congregation Ahavas Yisroel and Rosh Mesivta of Mesivta Tiferes Yisroel also pointed out that the European society of our forefathers was distinguished by the fact that the Yidden may not have been as knowledgeable as we are today about the halochos for the Nine Days and Tisha B’Av. But real crying they did.

We today know the halachos, but find it difficult to shed tears for the Churban Beis Hamikdosh. Everyday, our grandparents in Europe understood what it meant to suffer persecution and had daily reminders that they were in golus. Rav Welcher noted that Baruch Hashem, we live in a time and place where we are blessed with comfort. So for what are we mourning for and how should we yearn for the yeshua, salvation?

He noted that the President of Iran (yemach shemo) talks on the world stage of annihilating Eretz Yisroel, the largest community of Jews in the world, with between five to six million. The Iranian leader speaks of wiping them, chas v’shalom, off the face of the map and the world is not in an uproar about it. We Jews are an isolated nation and just two generations after the Holocaust, a rasha threatens to make another holocaust of Klal Yisroel.

Are we not in golus? Do we not have what to ask the Ribbono shel Olam for sending us the geulah shelaimah? Why, Rav Welcher challenged the audience, are we so comfortable in this world? Do we really believe that our world is so unthreatened and that we are so respected and unreviled by the rest of the world? We just only have to open our eyes at the world around us and recognize that we are in a very dangerous place, even in America. Yes, we have a reason to ask the Ribbono shel Olam to bring the geulah sheleimah.

May Klal Yisroel learn that their only hope is in Hashem and that we all truly need the geulah that will bring us Moshiach and the ultimate restoration of the Beis Hamikdosh and kavod Shomayim.

{Daniel Keren/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I think that it’s because today’s Yeshiva people realize that it was not much better before the Churbonis.
    The first Bais was only for the whole klal, for thiry years. There were constantly Avodah Zoras inside the Bais. Yidden were getting killed, and killing each other by the millions.
    By the second Bais it was even worse. As written Yoisifin. All the murders and rapes done by rival Yiddishe kings to each other’s families, and the killings among stam Yidden was terrible. The hunger and poorness was non-stop by the regular people.

  2. Rabbi Berel Wein sardonically once pointed out that for years we asked HKB”H to let the Jews out of the Soviet Union. HKB”H did and as iirc R’ Wein said he said “OK, now let’s see what you do with them”

    One might make a similar statement comparing the return to Zion (that HKB”H in his enormous chesed and rachamim allowed the Jewish people) to the knocks on the door of the beloved in Shir Hashirim. Have we reacted appropriately?

    She-nir’eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu

    Kol Tuv

  3. Opinion: The Secret Anorexic War – The Skinny On Being Skinny In Shidduchim

    Here is your answer: Headlines like this (yesterday) that show where the priorities of the veldt are. It’s nice in golus, isn’t it?

  4. If we see what is happening here in the US and in Eretz Yisroel, we won’t find it too hard to cry. Obama is destroying this country as fast as he can and the Tzionim are as anti chareidi as ever.

  5. To #1
    That is exactly why, Bochurum in Yeshiva should not be learning Tenach and Josephus.
    We don’t need young boys going around talking about the murders, rapes and jealousy, in the time of the first Bayis.
    Neither do we need them commenting that nothing is ever mentioned in Tenach about the Yidden having any Shaichus to Kiyum Torah Umitzvos.