Zev Schwartz
Zev Schwartz Courtesy

The day of Shiva Asar B'Tammuz is known as the day that Moshe Rabeinu broke the first tablets, Luchot HaBrit. We know that there is a difference between the first and second set of tablets. The major difference that most are aware of is "Shamor" versus "Zachor" written by Shabbat. There is also a difference in regards to the commandment of Kibbud Av V'Em. On the second set of luchot there's an additional three words: "lman yitav lach", so that it will be good for you.

I heard initially from Penina Noibert and also saw from Rav Reuven Margaliot an idea that explains this difference. The first luchot was broken and that was tragic to all of us. We will never forget that and that is what we are marking on Shiva Asar B'Tamuz. Yet, despite this tragic moment we see that on the second set of luchot we have the additional words of "lmaan yitav lach", so that it will be good for you. These words indicate that these tablets are forever. The reasons those words do not appear by the first tablets is because something that breaks cannot be good, and indeed the first set of tablets was broken – only that which is forever, like the second tablets, can be called "good". The eternal set of luchot have the eternal message of lman yitav lach.

We also know that on Shiva Asar B'Tamuz the walls of Jerusalem started to be sieged by the Romans in the time of the Second Temple. That was a time of a lot of hatred, sinat chinam, and culminated in the walls crumbling down on Tisha B'av.

Each year, Shiva Asar B'Tamuz falls out exactly a month after my Mom's yahrtzheit, on the 17th of Sivan. Although this was a personal tragedy for me, my initial thought was that 17 has the gematria of "tov", good. Something good has to come from tragedy. What is this special goodness? Sometimes we see in our own personal tragedy and in our national tragedy that we have to seek the inner good.

On a personal note, my mom, as we called her a "special lady", was someone who was always giving and doing the extra bit for somebody. She tried to break the walls to someone's hearts to allow more loving, feeling and kindness to enter. Sometimes when you break something that is dear to you, the walls to your heart, the "luchot of your heart", can open up to a better kindness, giving and sense of love.

Now when we see this tragedy and remember Shiva Asar B'Tamuz, we can see Jerusalem – the city that unites us all -- if it's not joining people, we have to break it down in order to build up a Jerusalem of love, not a Jerusalem of hate.

At this difficult time, we see the breaking of the luchot and the breaking down of the walls of Jerusalem and I believe that this is a time for rebuilding. This is a time of kiruv levavot and seeing what Jerusalem should be and with God's help we will get out of this depth of aveilut and we can see the shining start of the geulah

This is in memory of my mother, Gila bat Yisrael and Miriam. All of us should be zoche to see the rejoicing of Jerusalem.

עוד ישמע בערי יהודה ובחוצות ירושלים

Zev Schwartz is CEO of Torah Mizion