11 Shvat 5781 / Sunday, January 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Beshalah
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Tisha B'Av, Why?    

Tisha B'Av, Why?

Living emuna demands that we change our vision and start believing that Hashem actively guides us from moment to moment in every aspect of our lives...


Imagine that you witnessed The 10 Plagues, Splitting the Sea, Victory in War, Manna from heaven every day, miraculous springs of water in the desert, a storm of quail for food, hearing God at Mt. Sinai, getting the Torah, being forgiven for the Golden Calf, the swallowing up of Korach and his followers, not having to do laundry in the desert, not having to work for a living, sitting and learning Torah from Moshe Rabbeinu, plus seeing the Divine Presence with your own eyes daily for 40 years…. Would you have Emuna?


Why did the holy Temple burn precisely on Tisha B’Av?


This was the day the Jewish people lost faith in Hashem. It was the day that the Children of Israel believed the negative report of the spies that denounced and instilled fear regarding entering the Promised Land to fulfill the Torah (the main point of leaving Egypt!). The nation as a collective whole didn’t listen to Caleb and Yehoshua (two spies who encouraged the nation to trust that Hashem would help the Jews take its rightful hold on the land of Israel… their efforts were for naught).


Since the Jews accepted the other spies’ report that the enemy living there was stronger and undefeatable, their Emuna was chilled to ice. They suddenly regretted leaving Egypt as slaves!!! They failed to recall all of the miraculous events that sustained the nation since its enslavement in Egypt. The nation broke down in its entirety and chaos ensued. They believed that Hashem had abandoned them. So to this day we remember their crying-for-nothing attitude and Hashem deemed that this would be the day our Holy Temple crumbled to burning ash.


As Rabbi Shalom Arush shlita says, “Miracles do not change a person!!!! Only by working on one’s character does a person grow! How does a person grow? He does so by talking to Hashem daily in personal prayer for an hour a day. By saying thank you for all of life’s blessings - remembering all the goodness that Hashem has bestowed on a person, by making an accounting of one’s deeds to improve in the future, and by taking 30 minutes a day and praying on one topic such as “guarding the eyes” or “modesty” does a person grow in life. Not by miracles!!”


Miracles can awaken a person, that is for sure, but for a person to change it must come from within. Living an emuna life means living with awareness and having the correct vision. How do we elevate ourselves? How do we become more spiritually connected, brave and happy?  We tune in to our essence of being a nation that thanks Hashem. It sounds easy but really it’s a great level to achieve. What’s the level? It’s called gratitude. On the 9th of Av the Jews lacked it.


Tisha B’Av was supposed to be (and will one day be) a day of great celebration. It is a day that we were supposed to collectively express our faith by following Hashem’s command to enter the Land. But we choked, and we are still choking because we forget the enormous events of kindness that Hashem has done and continues to do for us, so we fear the future. We simply forget and become ingrates, and then expect things to always go the way our brains want them to.


Living emuna demands that we change our vision and start believing that Hashem actively guides us from moment to moment in every aspect of our lives. It means mentally exerting ourselves to recognize and verbally thank Hashem that we woke up today, that our eyes work, and that Hashem is literally so in love with us. Start counting your blessings! Many followers of Rav Arush keep a thank you diary, adding ten daily things to be grateful for each morning.


When we are thankful, and recognize the past divine intervention of Hashem in our lives we can move forward with courage. Yes, perhaps we made mistakes in the past, but those mistakes led us to where we are today! If we wouldn’t have learned from the mistakes and fallen down- maybe we’d never even read The Garden of Emuna, G-d Forbid! So it’s all for the good, but we need to be thankful for it all and move forward with resolution.


Don’t listen to the spies!! If you have a dream, don’t let outsiders push you into the trap of mediocrity and complacency. Exert yourself to gather the courage and daily lean on the meditation of all the kindness Hashem has done and will continue to do for you. Follow the path of Yehoshua and Caleb, and may your light serve as an example for our nation to follow in our desire to see a rebuilt Temple speedily in our Holy City of Jerusalem, amen!

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