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Life Lessons with Judy Simon
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
The Sages enacted special restrictions and signs of mourning on Tisha B’Av, and the Three Weeks preceding it, to remind us that the longing for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and for the ingathering of the exiles should always be the center of our lives.
The “Pele Yoetz” states:
“It is true that mourning over the destruction of the Holy Temple is something that should be expressed in outward actions, especially during the Three Weeks, when one should put ashes on one’s head at the place where one lays tefillin, and sit by the doorway day and night to recite Tikun Hatzot. Still, the main thing is not the outward actions, but the feelings one has in one’s heart. One should feel brokenhearted, shed bitter tears, and sigh mournfully over the pain of Heaven. This depends on one’s level of knowledge and insight, one’s love of G-d, and the purity of one’s soul.
“It may be true that today we have fallen to a very low level, and no one understands the full extent of what we are missing and what we have lost, what we have caused because of our sin, and what the exile of the Shechinah really means. Our very lack of understanding and sensitivity should fill us with anguish. Even so, each person is obligated to do what he can. One should imagine how he would feel if his mother was swathed and garbed in black, and was crying bitterly and shrieking, ‘The pain in my head! The pain in my arm! I brought up children, I raised them, and they rebelled against me!’ One should focus one’s mind and heart on similar bitter images and pour out one’s soul in a bitter cry, and then one may be worthy of seeing the consolation of Zion and the building of our Holy Temple in all of its glory, soon in our days.”
As Rabbi Eliezar Paapo, the “Pele Yoetz,” makes clear, it isn’t easy to rise up to the level where you can experience actual anguish over the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile. To help myself, I think about the Jews in the Diaspora, my brothers and sisters who are dwelling in the darkness in Toronto, New York, LA, Manchester, and Johannesburg. I picture them going happily about their lives, lost, ignorant of their true situation, unconcerned or indifferent to the Shechinah’s terrible pain that her holy children are living amongst the heathens in the far corners of the earth. I think about all of my dear brothers who have married gentiles and unknowingly abandoned their souls. This awakens in me a profound sadness and sorrow, and then I can recite the Tikun Hatzot with true feeling, if not with the flowing tears that I’ve seen in the eyes of genuine Tzaddikim.
May our brothers and sisters, in all of their exiles, all return soon, on their own, ahead of the ever-increasing assimilation, and persecutions, that will surely come, with the speedy rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash and Jerusalem. Amen.