With so much that has happened in the past year, we could all use a little chizuk this Tisha B’Av. These 8 principles are helping me to stay focused, maybe they’ll help you, too…
8 Quick Teachings for a Meaningful Tisha B’Av
Holding On to Our Lifeline
Before Moshiach comes, Hashem will stretch a rope from one end of the world to the other and shake it vigorously… These turbulent times are testing our faith… We must hold on tightly until the end.
-The Chofetz Chaim
What is this “rope”?
It’s our personal connection to Hashem…
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Hashem is Never Far
In every difficult situation Hashem is always right there with us. Though His Presence may seem hidden, the truth is Hashem is never far away:
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble
If at any moment, we don’t feel Him or see Him, it’s only because we have blocked Him out. As the Kotzker Rebbe famously said:
“Where is God to be found?
In the place where He is given entry.”
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Just a Little Effort Can Open Big Doors
When we make even the slightest effort to come closer to Hashem, what results is a small opening in our heart. From that tiny impression, Hashem makes an opening the size of a gate so that the light of teshuva can flow in from Above.
This means a seemingly insignificant movement on our end can in fact result in great spiritual leaps and bounds.
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The Real Beis HaMikdash
And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.
Our sages point out that “I will dwell among them” can also be translated as “in them.”
Each Jew is meant to be a Sanctuary for Hashem’s Presence in the world. In fact, the Jew– and by extension his or her home, shul and community– is the real Beis HaMikdash on which the physical building was modeled.
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Building the Beis HaMikdash with Knowledge
Every single Jew has the potential to reveal a unique Divine Light and a personal awareness of Hashem in the world.
The more we seek Hashem in the situations and experiences we find ourselves in, the greater our knowledge of Him, and the more we can reveal that knowledge to others.
This process, say our Sages, is like building the Beis HaMikdash:
And Rabbi Elazar says: Any person in whom
there is knowledge [of Hashem], it is as though
the Temple was built in his days
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Two Ways to Build the Beis HaMikdash
There are two ideas about how the Third Beis HaMikdash will be constructed.
One states that the Beis HaMikdash will be built by man. The other is that the Beis HaMikdash has already been constructed by Hashem and exists in the heavenly realms, waiting for the time when it will be able to descend to the world.
This is not a contradiction.
Whenever regular Jews turn to Hashem with their teshuva, tefilla and mitzvos, they are simultaneously building their own portion of the Beis HaMikdash here on earth.
And if a critical number of Jews are making such an effort, then they can initiate the flow of Divine Assistance that will ultimately “cause” Hashem to complete the structure of the earthly Beis HaMikdash by uniting it with it’s Heavenly form.
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Always Serving Hashem with Simcha
Our Sages tell us that the three weeks, and the month of Av in particular, are days that are set aside for teshuva.
But that leaves us with a question: how can a person do teshuva at a time of mourning and sadness? Hashem’s Presence will only rest on someone who is b’simcha— in a state of joy. Teshuva cannot happen in a state of sadness.
The Chasam Sofer answers:
משנכנס אב ממעטים בשמחה
One who enters Av reduces with simcha
The month of Av is a time to stop and reflect. It’s a time when we are ממעטים, we reduce the activities that create distractions in our lives. By doing so we can better focus on and connect to the pain of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. But, we need to do this בשמחה, in joy, and not in sadness!
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Facing the Darkness
Our Sages teach that Moshiach was born on Tisha b’Av. It’s a day when both he and the geula he is meant to usher in are given new life and power.
But, why this day of all days?
Because in this world Hashem hides the greatest, most precious light within the deepest darkness. Spiritual growth and geula can only happen when we have the courage to face the darkness in search of the light.
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This Tisha B’Av is not like any other. We each have the opportunity to become partners with Moshiach to bring the geula closer. We just need to believe that we can.