Beit Midrash

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • The Seven Weeks of Condolence
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After The Fast


Rabbi Berel Wein

The period of time that follows the fast day of Tisha B’Av is an active time for many. Vacations and trips temporarily delayed are now pursued vigorously. Purchases also delayed because of the "three weeks," the "nine days" and Tisha B’Av itself are now completed and life returns to a sense of normalcy. However, there is also the beginning of an upbeat mood because glimpsed now over our calendar’s horizon is the arrival of the new year and its attendant holidays of solemnity and joy. I have always felt that the wonder of Tisha B’Av in the Jewish world is that the Jewish people somehow continued after its destructive occurrences. The rabbis taught the people to believe that the destruction of the Temples and even the exile and scattering of Israel over the face of the earth was not the final chapter in the story of the Jews. They created a post-Tisha B’av world that while still looking backwards and never forgetting what had occurred to Israel basically looked forward to create the conditions of Jewish survival, growth and dynamism. This remarkable achievement is unique in all of human history and is testimony to the covenant of eternity that controls our destiny and shapes our lives. The Mishna and the Talmud, the basic books of Judaism and Jewish life, were created after the events of Tisha B’Av. The customs and folkways that have bound Jews together and to their tradition were created and strengthened after the destruction of the Temples. Resilience became the watchword of Jewish life.

In 1263, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Ramban) argued against the Church in front of King James of Aragon that Jewish survival alone over the then past millennia was sufficient proof of the uniqueness of the Jewish people and of its covenantal nature with the Creator. "One sheep surrounded by seventy wolves!" he shouted to his adversaries who sought to deny the right of Jewish existence and the role of Judaism in world society. Almost eight hundred years later the same statement can and should be made with even greater emphasis. It is simply Jewish survival and resilience that puts the lie to the delegitimatization campaign that is currently being viciously conducted against us. According to the script of natural history we should no longer be here, there should be no great concentrations of Torah students and observant Jews present and there certainly cannot be a thriving Jewish state in its ancient homeland, the Land of Israel. I think that much of the anti-Jewish world’s bitterness and frustration that fuels its hatred, bias and bigotry against Jews and especially the State of Israel is that there apparently is no real "final solution" to the "Jewish problem." Much of the world truly believes that if there were no State of Israel and no strong Jewish community present in the world universal utopia will have arrived. And they therefore are angry with us for not accommodating this wish, which they believe would be so beneficial for the general good of humankind. It is the resilience of the Jew more than anything else that so frustrates our antagonists and has done so for lo so many centuries.

There are elements within the Jewish people that seemingly are willing to accommodate the wishes of our enemies, all in the name of pie-in-the-sky humanistic, utopian ideals that never have any true relation to facts on the ground or the reality of life. Their Jewish resilience has deserted them, replaced by a vague hope for universalism and a conviction that the lamb can truly lie down with the lion and not become lamb chops. This misplaced "goodness" and peace mongering at all costs has exacted a heavy toll of lives and stress in the Jewish and general world over the past many decades. The Jewish people, in the main, has rebuilt itself after the indescribable tragedies and disasters of World War II. A Jewish state exists in the Land of Israel, the Soviet Union disappeared and over a million Soviet Jews have reattached themselves in one degree or another to their people and heritage. There simply has never occurred such a string of events to a people after such a tragedy as was the Holocaust to the Jews. The world knows about Tisha B’Av but is ill acquainted with after Tisha B’Av. Jews see the good new year and better times on the horizon. It is not the memorials, important as they are, that will sustain our existence in the future. It is the continued physical and spiritual growth of our nation and its institutions of learning, government and compassion that will once again prove our vital ability of resilience to still be present within us.
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