Spilt Milk and Burnt Temples

Let's go back to the beginning.

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Rabbi S. Weiss,

Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Arutz 7
Tisha B'Av, the "Black Fast," both Batei Mikdash and Jerusalem destroyed. Exile. The Inquisition. Why?
Is this how the Almighty - compassionate, slow to anger and merciful - reacts?

Let's go back to the beginning, to the source of Tisha B'Av's infamy. The spies return from scouting Israel and they deliver a negative report, recommending that we do not enter the Land. The people begin to weep and cry all night. Said Rabbi Yochanan: "That night was Tisha B'Av. G-d said: 'You wept for no reason; now I will give you a good reason to cry throughout the generations.'"

At first glance, this statement by our rabbis seems difficult, at best. It sounds like a parent punishing a child: "You want to cry? I'll really give you a reason to cry!" Is this how the Almighty - compassionate, slow to anger and merciful - reacts? Or is there more to it?

On one level, certainly, there is definitely an element of real anger on G-d's part when we are ungrateful, when we fail to see His benevolence in granting us this beautiful land, and for failing to show hakarat hatov for all His kindness. But on a deeper level, it seems that HaShem understands that we were not ready for the gift of Eretz Yisrael. We still harbored the belief that the grass (or is it the dollars?) is greener in Galut. Had we entered Israel then, we would always have looked over our collective shoulders at the rest of the planet and wondered, "Maybe if we had gone there, life would have been easier, more rewarding, etc."

So, HaShem decided, in His infinite wisdom, that we needed a strong shot of reality. He let us go to all those other places, so we would see how much "better" they were for the Jew. Babylon, Persia, Spain, Russia, Germany, Poland, Iran, France - you fill in the blank. We had to experience, first-hand, how brutal every Exile is doomed to become.
Maybe our tears, way back then at the doorstep of Israel, were misplaced.

And the wise among us - after crying billions of tears in those places - suddenly awoke to a shocking realization: maybe our tears, way back then at the doorstep of Israel, were misplaced. Maybe HaShem knew what He was doing, after all, when He picked out this little piece of choice real estate and named us its rightful occupant. And then we would decide to turn the clock back - to the eighth of Av - and resolve to undo what we had done; to return to Israel. As the Psalm says, "He walked along, weeping, carrying his seeds; but he will return in joy, bearing overflowing sheaves."

"Don't cry over spilt milk." That's true, when the mishap can't be undone. But crying over our having forsaken Israel, learning our lesson and vowing never to repeat it - those are the tears from which Israel will again flower.