Hadrash Ve-Haiyun
Dor Revi'i

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by Efraim Levine

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The Reisha Rav
HaGoan R' Aaron Levine zt"l
Author of
Hadrash Ve-Haiyan

Tisha Ba'Av

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Chazal note the dual nature of Tishah Ba’Av. On the one hand it is a day of national mourning. We mourn the loss the first and second Beis Hamikdash, galus and all trouble and suffering that have come in its wake. On the other hand we have a tradition that it is the day Moshiach is born. According to some it is also the day Moshiach will arrive. Indeed, the posuk calls it a “festival” and for this reason we do not recite tachanun.

Chazal tell us that in order to merit the consolation of the rebuilding of Yerushalayim we must properly mourn its loss. For many of us it is difficult to grasp the two extremes of the day. We have never seen the Beis Hamikdash and do not know what life was like with the Divine Presence resting in our midst to appreciate its loss. Furthermore, it is difficult to picture what life will be like with the arrival of Moshiach. Let us attempt to contrast the two extremes with something that we can relate to a little better.

There was once a person who observed the Chasam Sofer enter his study erev Tishah Ba’Av after midday. Being that some halachik authorities forbid the study of Torah erev Tishah Ba’Av after midday, this person could not be help wonder what the Chasam Sofer was doing inside. He peeked through the keyhole and observed him study Megilas Eichah. He noticed that tears flowed down his cheeks and dripped into a cup that was carefully placed there. Later that day as part of final meal before the onset of the fast the Chasam Sofer drank the cup of tears in fulfillment of the verse. “You fed them bread of tears, you made them drink tears in great measure” (Tehillim 8:6). (see Otzrosayhem shel Tzadikum by Rav Aaron Perlow).

On the other extreme it used to be the custom of Divrei Chaim and other righteous individuals to study Megilas Eichah on Tishah Ba’av. At the conclusion of day they would conduct a siyum and eat meat. Ordinarily it is forbidden to eat meat at the conclusion of Tishah Ba’av being that it shares the laws of the nine days. A siyum is the exception. Many people would join such siyumim and eat meat. Chazal tell us the meal of siyum has a unique place in halacha. It is a meal of great joy. Even mourners who may not participate in other meals of mitzvah may attend a siyum.

We see here the paradox of Tishah Ba’av. The same study of Megilas Eichah that produced a cup of tears for the Chasam Sofer to drink as part of his final preparation for the fast of Tishah Ba’av is the source of joy with which one may conduct a siyum and even eat meat at the conclusion of the fast. This paradox highlights that fact that this day which has been a day of mourning for over two thousand years will soon be transformed into a day of great joy for the Jewish people.


© Efraim Levine 5760/2000 - 5765/2005