Rav Avigdor Miller on Mourning In The Past and Present

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Q:

How can we mourn on Tisha B’Av for the losses to our people that took place so long ago?

A:

And the answer is, there is no such thing as long ago in our nation. It is a big mistake to think that time makes any difference to us. 

Our history is one monolithic history; from the beginning of our history to the end of time, it is one existence. All the Jews are one nation; the Jews who once lived and the Jews who someday will live, we are all one people. 

When we just said יעלה ויבוא on Rosh Chodesh, so we said אלוקינו ואלוקי אבותינו יעלה ויבוא זכרוננו ופקדוננו  – we’re asking Hashem to remember us for good; who are we asking Him to remember? We say וזכרון כל עמך בית ישראל, the Bais Yisroel. Who are the Bais Yisroel that we want Him to remember? Only the ones who are alive? No! The whole Bais Yisroel who ever lived; we are one people!

It is an error to think that once they die it is all over and we forget about them; we put them in the ground and it’s finished. No! They are just as alive as we are. All those neshamos that were slaughtered are just as alive as we are. And their blood still cries out from the earth. קוֹל דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ צֹעֲקִים אֵלַי מִן הָאֲדָמָה. The blood of all the martyrs are crying out from the earth. It doesn’t stop crying when two days pass by, or two years, or two thousand years pass by; they are still crying out.

And therefore we are one nation. Goy echad means we are one nation from the beginning to the end and it is a serious error to think otherwise.

And therefore Avraham Avinu is not someone that once lived. Avraham Avinu is our father today; he is still alive. So if we ask today Hashem should give us kindness in the merit of Avrohom Avinu, זוכר חסדי אבות, we are saying Avrohom Avinu is still alive as far as we are concerned.

Hashem means, היה הוה ויהיה  – all tenses are together. Now get that lesson into your head. Hashem is all tenses forever, אהיה אשר אהיה. There is no past tense to Hashem.

So a man who made a sin fifty years ago; let’s say he was bar mitzvah and he made a sin. “Oh,” he thinks, “I was only a little boy of only thirteen and a half years; I’ll forget about it.” No, it is remembered forever. Nothing is forgotten; it is remembered forever. And even sins of our forefathers are remembered forever. And the mitzvos of our forefathers too; He remembers the devoted acts of the forefathers. 

Our entire history lives. And that’s why we learn chumash again and again. There is nothing past, there is nothing future; in the eyes of Hashem it is altogether one. There is no such thing as long ago in the Jewish people. It yesterday, it is now and it is our future. 

The Bais Hamikdosh is now burning. It is actually burning right now. The Churban Bais Hamikdosh is taking place today. And that’s a fundamental attitude of ours, that there is no past to Jewish people. We live with the past. 

And we live with the future too. When Yeshaya Hanavi tells us what will take place some day, l’asid lavo, it is true today. Like when Avrohom Avinu heard that he is going to have a son, it says, וַיִּפֹּל אַבְרָהָם עַל פָּנָיו וַיִּצְחָק – he fell on his face and he laughed. So why wasn’t he criticized for laughing like Sarah was criticized? The answer is, Avraham fell on his face and laughed because he was so happy as if he had a son already. That was his laughing. Like אז ימלא שחוק פינו; our mouths will be full of laughter, a laughter of happiness. When Avraham heard he would have a Yitzchak, it was like he was holding Yitzchak in his arms already. That is the greatness of the great man; there is no future, the future is right now. We believe in Moshiach with a full confidence as if he is already here; it’s only a matter of time, because he is already here. 

And just like our future is so real to us, our past is the same thing. We live together with all of the Am Yisroel that ever lived and that ever will live. There is no past and no future; it is all a permanent present for the Bais Yisroel. 

And that’s why on Tisha B’Av we can actually weep with genuine tears; because the Bais Hamikdosh is burning right now. It’s part of our present that we lost the Bais Hamikdash. And that’s included in the idea of כל דור שלא נבנה בית המקדש בימיו כאילו נחרב בימיו. 

TAPE # 605 (July 1986)

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