Searching for Our Roots
This was the time when our forefathers who lived during the
great Churban felt their world collapsing. On 17 Tammuz the
walls of the city were breached. After years of strife, both
internal and external, the final defenses were crumbling. For
many who were slaughtered in the terrible final destruction,
their own end was drawing near.
This is what we recall, but HaRav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch
explains that the theme of this period is not mourning but
fasting. We are not just contemplating the tragedy as a
mourner is supposed to recall and eulogize his departed loved
one, but rather we are to inspect our selves and our deeds
and our surroundings, to identify the causes of our suffering
and to determine how to heal them.
Our state is a very sad one.
When we look around at the non-Jewish world, we see a society
that is cut off from the basic imperatives of the Creation, a
society that does not recognize the fundamental obligations
of humans to one another.
Hashem told man that he created the world "losheves,"
that it be subdued and settled. This basic Divine charge is
now suppressed. The people of the world see little reason to
set up a family, and even less reason to have children. They
even hold up as examples to emulate various living
arrangements that have nothing to do with having children.
All Western societies today are shrinking -- they do not even
have enough children to remain stable.
Moreover, the world publicly ignores all the basic
limitations of decency. All the boundaries of modesty and
restraint are proudly violated. Those who breach a line that
was hitherto taboo are rewarded with fame and fortune.
Business leaders and politicians no longer keep minimum
standards of honesty, even when it would be the best policy
for them. They are only interested in their own stock options
Though we are certainly not participants in these terrible
excesses, we cannot say that we find no such faults among
ourselves, in the areas that are important to us. We have
also lost touch with our roots, to some extent.
We find it difficult to really feel what we have lost in our
long golus. We are so far from what we had, that we
cannot even recall it.
Tzor te'udoh, chosume Torah belimudoi, bind up the
certificate, seal Torah within those who learn it
(Yeshayohu 8:16). The very Torah itself is bound up
and hidden. Instead of it flooding every nook and cranny of
the universe we can only reach pieces of it through arduous
toil over long periods. We are far from even realizing fully
what we lost, much less from restoring it. Nonetheless, we
must not shirk the task, and continue to apply ourselves to
studying Torah despite the difficulties.
We have clearly lost the central location of service to
Hashem in the Beis Hamikdash. We learn about what was
done there, but it remains very far from our understanding.
Nonetheless, we must work on our lip service and make it come
from the depths of our hearts.
Left to us is our relationships to our fellows, gemilas
chassodim. This has remained the same, across the
generations and around the world. We must continue and
strengthen the work that we are doing in this area.
It is clear that we cannot hope for any real, sustained
success in Torah or avodoh or gemilus chassodim
unless we insulate ourselves from the spirit of our times
which tolerates none of these.
Feeling the pain of the destruction is the only way to be
zoche to see the rebuilding. The destruction is so bad
these days, we should be able to feel it.
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