By Daniel Keren
Over the course of Tisha B’Av, close to a thousand men and women from around the New York Metropolitan area came to attend some of the many lectures organized by Torah Connections at the Yeshiva of Brooklyn in Flatbush. The common theme of the inspiring lectures is that every Jew has a responsibility to reach out to other Jews who need encouragement to come closer to Yiddishkeit.
Perhaps one reason we tend to avoid opportunities to encourage others to become more involved in shiurim or mitzvah performance is that we don’t recognize our own spiritual greatness.
Don’t Compare Yourselves to Others
Rabbi Yosef Viener, Rav of Kehilas Shaar Hashamayim in Monsey spoke on the topic of “Time for Geulah/Redemption: What Should We Do?” He said that one should daven to Hashem that He should help one in his particular matzav and not worry or compare himself to others in different situations. Don’t feel bad because you can’t give as much tzedokah as a neighbor who is earning twice as much money as you do.
Recognize that whatever situation you find yourself stuck in is that situation which Hashem wants you to tackle and elevate. Very few things in life, Rabbi Viener said, are pashut. If you find things in your life difficult, then recognize that Hashem’s purpose is to encourage you to daven. Just understand that if your challenge is not easy, that doesn’t mean that it is not important.
We Are Living in the Period Right Before the Coming of Moshiach
Today we are living in the period right before the coming of Moshiach. And therefore if we pray to Hashem that He help us to help other Yidden come closer to Torah and Hashem Himself, Rabbi Viener said that there are great chances that our prayers if sincere will be answered.
He emphasized that those of us who had a chance to learn in a yeshiva or a Bais Yaakov or pushed ourselves to learn Torah in other venues, we have to realize that we are superstars. And as superstars we have a major obligation to alert all those whom we know who aren’t yet onboard to become aware of the beauty of Yiddishkeit, and how it can it greatly enrich their lives.
First We Must Show Achdus Amongst Our Fellow Yidden
Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Rav of the Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin in Flatbush began his talk “A Call to Action: End Sinas Chinam (Baseless Hatred)” by recalling the pasukim in Shemos where it mentions that before the Bnei Yisroel left Egypt they borrowed precious gold and silver vessels from their neighbors. Most of us were taught that the neighbors were Mitzri. However Rabbi Lieff quoted a teaching from Vilna Gaon that said there were two sets of borrowing. The first time each borrowed from a fellow Jew. Only after the Jews demonstrated such ahavas Yisroel with each other were they able to successfully ask their Egyptian neighbor for permanent loans of valuable items.
We are living in terrible and challenging times. If you want to change the negative world opinion against the Jews in Israel, you have to start by developing your own positive attitude towards other Jews and find ways to help them. This will win the favor of Hakodesh Baruch Hu and that will ultimately result in the other nations of the world being unable to harm or even say bad things about the Jewish people.
Changing Our Destiny and that of Our Families
Rabbi Lieff said that Tisha B’Av is the introduction to the Yomim Noraim. We have to grasp these last moments of Tisha B’Av and in so doing, you can change your destiny and the destiny of your family. Remember that there isn’t anything a parent won’t do to help a child. And Hakodesh Baruch Hu is our Father in Heaven. If we are angry at another Yid, a favorite child of Hashem, how can we expect Him to look at us with favor and love?
If we know the way to serve Hashem, we are all obligated, Rabbi Lieff said, to share our knowledge with those we know – whether they be acquaintances, colleagues at work, neighbors or family. If you hate another person, you are forgetting that he is only an agent for Hakodesh Baruch Hu.
Making the Effort to Respect Others
Furthermore, one has to realize that one is not the master of his own world. Stop wanting to have everything! By making an effort to respect others, you will be able to overcome the easy tendency to have sinas chinam, baseless hatred.
Rabbi Shmuel Dishon, Menahel of Mosdos Yad Yisroel, Karlin-Stolin began his talk by noting that this year is a totally different Tisha B’Av than that of previous years. He noted that if one studies Parshas Vayishlach, one can learn important secrets regarding Klal Yisroel.
In that parsha, Yaakov upon returning from Lavon to Eretz Yisroel had to confront his brother Eisav. In an attempt to mollify his brother who up until then wanted to kill him, Yaakov instructs his agents to give valuable gifts of cattle, donkeys, camels, etc to Eisav. However, he tells them to make space between each set of different animals to make his gift look more impressive.
Creating Spaces of Rest in Our Long and Difficult Golus
Another explanation for the spacing, Rabbi Dishon said, was that Yaakov knew prophetically that the golus in which his descendants would suffer under the descendants of Eisav was going to be very difficult. And he was requesting of Hashem that He similarly create spaces of rest between the very difficult and long Golus Edom that we are currently still suffering from.
Every human being knows that he has chisronisis, failures of middos, character. Nevertheless, Rabbi Dishon said, we all want to be liked despite those chisronisis. So a major lesson of Tisha B’Av is that we must realize our obligations to like others despite their chisronisis. Rather than focus of the lackings of others, a Jew should aim to see the positive attributes of the next Jew.
We Only Can Depend on Hakodesh Baruch Hu
One painful lesson of the recent war in Gaza is that throughout the world, it is becoming quite clear that there are many people who don’t think that we Jews even have the right to defend ourselves. This lesson of the animosity of the rest of the world is that we have to know that we, Klal Yisroel have only Hakodesh Baruch Hu to depend on. And we must focus on improving our tefillah.
Rabbi Dishon concluded by saying that Hashem wants us now to show Him that we love all Jews, His special children and in this merit we will have protection from the descendants of Eisav in these last few years before the long-awaited Geulah.
Those interested in tapes of the above shiurim can contact Torah Connections by calling (718) 998-5822 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org