A Sacred Date
By Rabbi Label Lam
The entire community raised their voices and shouted, and the people wept
on that night. (Bamidbar 14:1)
the people wept on that night: From that moment the destruction of the
Temple was decreed, since it was the night of Tisha’ B’Av. The Holy One
Blessed is He said they are crying a cry for nothing, so I will fix for them
a crying for generations. (Mosef Rashi)
What’s so terrible about crying a cry for nothing? It sounds a lot like the
father or teacher that says to the child, “You want to complain?! I’ll give
you something to complain about!” To the untutored ear it seems a vengeful
and petty style of responding. It must be much more than that since we have
been mopping up the fallout of those baseless tears for way too long now.
The first thing to appreciate is that there are no purely punitive
punishments. The consequences of life must have a rehabilitative component.
There-in is the promise of a cure. How does that apply here in the case of
the wasteful cry that now lingers for generations?
I remember being engaged in a lively discussion more than once about why
Holocaust Day is not so honored by the strictly observant community. It is
certainly not out of disrespect for those who perished at the cruel hands of
the Nazis during the 2ndWorld War. No, rather it is out of an appreciation
of the wisdom of the sages. They understood that the primary cause for later
tragedies can all be traced to the destruction of the Temple and the
subsequent experience of exile. Now we discover that Tisha B’Av hearkens
back to a foolish investment of emotions that not only put the Children of
Israel on a 40 year detour but set the template for all future problems.
Tisha B’Av remains the focal point of national mourning for an important
There was a gentleman who was feeling overwhelmed by his mounting worries.
He sought out a wise man who gave him a simple and practical piece of advice
that helped him with the carrying of his burden without entirely removing.
The wise man told him to set aside ten minutes in the day, every day, and
during that time he should worry away, but afterwards he should not indulge
himself at all in the futile exercise of worry for the rest of the day.
The positive result came about because his concerns were no longer spilling
out of that appointed time slot and bleeding into the whole day rendering
him dysfunctional. Once he was done with his worries, he was done, till the
next time. He was no longer the slave of a random attack of worry. Like
other aspects of life he pigeonholed it and dealt with it head on at the
So too, on Tisha B’Av we are all expected to immerse ourselves in sadness,
but that gloomy mood is only for one day. After that time we can go back to
cheerful and productive life. The Temple would be destroyed the Torah
anticipated, “because you did not serve HASHEM your G-d with joy and a good
heart!” Tisha B’Av helps us to manage our emotions so we should not be
overly burdened by sadness.
Save that negativity for Tisha B’Av! Don’t cry for nothing now! Cry for the
Beis HaMikdash! Whenever an unhappy thought invade our minds, it needs to be
addressed and redirected, but at a pre-appointed- appropriate time. By
soaking in sadness for one day we can be joyous and appreciative a whole
year. There is a huge benefit for us to save and savor our tears and all of
our emotions for a sacred date.
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.