How do I take advantage of Tisha B’Av?
Now, we have to listen to the advice of a great man, Shlomo HaMelech. In Koheles he’s giving us advice. לכל זמן – There’s a time for everything. Now, when you hear that on Chol Hamoed Sukkos, you just want to be yotzei the reading of the megillah and that’s all. But you should listen well to these words of this wise man.
Listen to the words – “There’s a time for everything.” Now, if you look there, he says that among the times there’s also עת למות – there’s a time to die. What does that mean? You’re going to choose a time to die? What does it mean there’s a time to die? You’re going to choose a good time to die? No, that’s not the pshat. It means, there’s always a time, an opportunity, to accomplish something – even when you’re dying. Even as you die, Hashem is giving you an opportunity to accomplish in this world.
La’kol, for every kind of perfection of character, there’s a zman – there’s a time. We need so many things to sandpaper us to make us smooth and easy to deal with. To make us good-natured, calm and happy, we need many things. So Hashem sends things upon you.
There are so many different times during the year and each one is an opportunity for perfection of the mind – each one of them accomplishes a different kind of perfection on you. It’s up to you, however, to know that when the time comes you have to make use of it.
Tisha B’Av you have to know is a time to sit down on the ground and weep. Not to look at the clock and see how many hours is it until supper time – no. You have to weep on Tisha B’Av. Weeping on Tisha B’Av is a shleimus, a perfection of character. I won’t go into that now – it’s a very big subject. Weeping on Tisha B’Av is a great shleimus. לַאֲבֵלֵי צִיּוֹן לָתֵת לָהֶם פְּאֵר תחת אפר – the more eifer, the more you put ashes on you, the more pe’er you’re going to get, the more perfection of character. The more you mourn, the more your character will be perfect. פאר תחת אפר. You get perfection of character if you mourn for the Beis Hamikdash.
We have to understand what the loss of the Beis Hamikdash means to us. Now, when I say Beis Hamikdash, I mean all that goes with it. The loss of the Sanhedrin in the lishkas hagazis is a tremendous irreparable loss. We have to realize also the loss of all the great personalities we had in the days of old. We don’t have the great teachers, the pathfinders, the guides, that we had in the days of old. That’s something to weep over.
We have to mourn for the loss of nevuah. Ahh, the prophets, the nevi’im! What a great gift that was, when the Shechina was shoreh b’Yisroel and the nevi’im spoke words of truth. It hurt very much, but they revealed to the people the core of the problems. The truth hurt, but that’s how people got better. It was the word of Hashem that enlightened the eyes of the people. And when the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, nevuah ceased and we lost that great opportunity.
By the way, you don’t have to wait until Tisha B’Av. If you’re an ambitious man, so sometimes, let’s say your wife went to a wedding, she’s coming home late at night – nobody’s home, so you take off your shoes, sit down on the floor and say tikkun chatzos. You never said tikkun chatzos once in your life?! Ah – it’s a pity! Sit down and mourn for the churban Beis Hamikdash. Never once? It’s in a siddur. When I was a boy, I said tikkun chatzos many times.
Sit down on the ground and try to weep for the churban Beis Hamikdash. In case you can’t do the whole thing, try it for one minute. Sit down for a minute before you go to sleep, on the floor. Sit down and mourn for the churban Beis Hamikdash. It’s a perfection. You never did it?! You sit down in the middle of the year – not on Tisha B’Av – in the middle of the year sit down on the ground and mourn for the churban Beis Hamikdash. “Only tzaddikim do that,” you’ll say. No! You don’t have to be a tzaddik! It’s expected of us that we should mourn for the churban Beis Hamikdash.
We lost the Beis Hamikdash. Is that nothing to you? All the time we’re saying והשב את העבודה – all day long we’re asking Hashem, “Please bring back the service in the Beis Hamikdash,” so it means you’re sorry you don’t have a Beis Hamikdash. יהי רצון מלפניך השם אלקינו שיבנה בית המקדש במהרה בימינו. You say that, don’t you? So once in a while sit down on the floor at night. The best time is chatzos, but otherwise pick anytime. In the daytime, you can do it too. If you can, the best time is chatzos. Let’s say nobody’s home right now, or everyone is sleeping, and it’s chatzos, you should grab the opportunity – sit down and mourn for the Beis Hamikdash one minute. You want to say the whole thing? תבוא עליכם ברכה.
But of all the times of the year, Tisha B’Av is the time to mourn. עת לבכות – There’s a time to mourn. That’s Tisha B’Av. You have to mourn on Tisha B’Av.
TAPE # E-194 (July 1999)