click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Join 400,000 Aish subscribers
Get Email Updates




Devarim(Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

Devarim 5767

If you would like to support the Shabbat Shalom Weekly, please click here:

GOOD MORNING! What is the saddest day of a person's life? Most likely it is the death of one of his closest relatives - father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter or spouse. What if the person felt no sadness over the passing of his closest relatives? Then he should definitely feel sad over his lack of appreciation and his inability to feel this appropriate emotion.

___July 23rd, Monday evening starting at sunset through Tuesday night, is Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av. It is the saddest day in the Jewish year. What should a person do if he has no feeling for Tisha B'Av? If a person is Jewish and identifies with being Jewish, then it behooves him to find out why we as a people mourn on this day - what have we lost? What did it mean to us? What should we be doing to regain that which we have lost? At the very minimum, we should mourn that we don't feel the pain.

___In 1967, Israeli paratroopers captured the Old City and made their way to the Wall. Many of the religious soldiers were overcome with emotion and leaned against the Wall praying and crying. Far back from the Wall stood a non-religious soldier who was also crying. His friends asked him, "Why are you crying? What does the Wall mean to you?" The soldier responded, "I am crying because I don't know why I should be crying."

___Tisha B'Av is observed to mourn the loss of the Temples in Jerusalem. What was the great loss from the destruction of the Temples? It is the loss of feeling God's presence. The Temple was a place of prayer, spirituality, holiness, open miracles. It was the focal point for the Jewish people, the focal point of our Jewish identity. Three times a year (Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot) every Jew would ascend to the Temple. Its presence pervaded every aspect of Jewish life - planning the year, where one faced while praying, where one would go for justice or to learn Torah, where one would bring certain tithes.

___On this same day throughout history many tragedies befell the Jewish people, including:

  1. The incident of the spies slandering the land of Israel with the subsequent decree to wander the desert for 40 years.
  2. The destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem by Nevuchadnetzar, King of Babylon.
  3. The destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE.
  4. The fall of Betar and the end of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans 65 years later, 135 CE.
  5. The Jews of England expelled in 1290.
  6. Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed, and many Jewish communities obliterated.
  7. The Jews of Spain were expelled in 1492 .
  8. World War I broke out on Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Russia declared war on Germany. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.
  9. On Tisha B'Av, deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.


___Tisha B'Av is a fast day (like Yom Kippur, from sunset one evening until the stars come out the next evening) which culminates a three week mourning period by the Jewish people. One is forbidden to eat or drink, bathe, use moisturizing creams or oils, wear leather shoes or have marital relations. The idea is to minimize pleasure and to let the body feel the distress the soul should feel over these tragedies. Like all fast days, the object is introspection, making a spiritual accounting and correcting our ways -what in Hebrew is called, "teshuva," returning, to the path of good and righteousness - to the ways of the Torah.

___Teshuva is a four part process: (1) We must recognize what we have done wrong and regret it. (2) We must stop doing the transgression and correct whatever damage that we can. (3) We must accept upon ourselves not to do it again. (4) We must verbally ask the Almighty to forgive us.

___On the night of Tisha B'Av we read in the synagogue Eicha, the book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah). We also say Kinot, special poems recounting the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. With the lights dimmed, we sit on low stools in synagogue as a sign of mourning.

___Learning Torah is the heart, soul and lifeblood of the Jewish people. It is the secret of our survival. Learning leads to understanding and understanding leads to doing. One cannot love what he does not know. Learning Torah gives a great joy of understanding life. On Tisha B'Av we are forbidden to learn Torah except those parts dealing with the calamities which the Jewish people have suffered. We must stop, reflect, change ourselves and only then will we be able to make a better world.

___"Tisha B'Av" by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer is helpful to understand the day and the service. Available at your local Jewish bookstore, at http://www.judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242. If you wish to delve deeper, I recommend going to Aish.com. There are articles to help understand Tisha B'Av - http://www.aish.com/holidays/ and check out http://www.ShabbatShalomAudio.com ! May we all merit that the Temple be speedily rebuilt in our days!


For more on "Tisha B'Av" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!

Hear classes on...
TISHA B'AV
Download to Go
or Listen FREE On-Line




Torah Portion of the Week
Devarim

___This week we begin the last of the Five Books of Moses, Deuteronomy (which is the Greek name for the book of Devarim, "Words" - as it is called in the original Hebrew). The Book is the oration of Moses (Moshe) before he dies. It is the preparation of the Jewish people for entering and living in the Land of Israel. Moshe reviews the history of the 40 years of wandering the desert and gives rebuke so that the Jewish people will learn from their mistakes. It is always good to give reproof right before one dies. People are more inclined to pay attention and to take it to heart.

___Moshe recalls what happened at Mt. Sinai, the appointment of judges and administrators, the story of the spies, the prohibition to attack Edom and Moav, the defeat of the Kings Sichon and Og, and how the land of Gilad was given to the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of the tribe of Menashe.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

___The Torah states:

"And I commanded your judges at that time saying, 'Listen among your brothers.' "

___What does this mean and what lesson for life can we learn from it?

___Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin writes that some judges may see themselves as elevated people and the litigants who come to them as wicked. Therefore, the Torah states, "Listen among your brothers." That is, consider anyone who comes to you as a brother and treat him accordingly.

___This concept applies to anyone in a position of authority. It is very easy to treat people as objects. However, our attitude towards others should be, "How would I feel, act and talk if this person were my brother?" This is especially important for anyone who is in a position where people in financial need or emotional pain come to him or her for assistance. The person you are talking with is suffering and often might feel embarrassed that he needs to come to someone for help. Be extremely sensitive to his feelings. If you are able to make him feel that you feel towards him as a close relative, it is a great kindness.




CANDLE LIGHTING - July 20
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)

Jerusalem 7:09
Guatemala 6:17 - Hong Kong 6:50 - Honolulu 6:57
J'Burg 5:17 - London 8:48 - Los Angeles 7:45
Melbourne 5:05 - Mexico City 7:58 - Miami 7:56
New York 8:05 - Singapore 6:59 - Toronto 8:36



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

You cannot do a kindness too soon,
for you never know how soon
it will be too late.



With Deep Appreciation to
Marc Guenoun
for his support and friendship


Published: July 14, 2007

Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Visitor Comments: 1

(1) David Talbot, July 21, 2007 12:02 PM

A Different Poll

Rabbi Packouz, At 50 to 60, many workers of all professions experience the highest degree of burnout and dissatisfaction with their life's work. So I am not surprised by the results of your poll. Here's a question I would ask of the children of those same individuals: Do you want to follow in your parent's footsteps and enter the same profession as your mother or father? My guess is that more than half would say yes.

I think your poll was a little too simplistic to come to any real conclusions, except of course to illustrate the point you wished to make regarding the Torah Scholar and the idea that we should all study Torah and pass that on to our kids. But, the conclusion of your poll is not, in my opinion, logical.

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub
Sign up today!