Thursday, August 2, 2012


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vaeschanan Pirkei Avos, perek 3
Shabbos Nachamu – 15 Av 5772/August , 2012

Torrents of tears, rivers of innocent blood, unbridled anguish, unmitigated suffering, ruthless cruelty, and extremes of evil, all come to life in the painful pages of the Kinnos of Tisha B’av. It’s an emotionally difficult day, and the laws of the day reflect it.
Then suddenly the clock strikes midday and an instant transformation takes place. We rise from the floor, return the curtain to the Ark, don our tallis and tefillin and proclaim “Nachem”, and commence the process of national consolation.
How does it happen? Where does the consolation stem from, even while the day of Tisha B’av has many hours remaining?
Forest fires are unquestionably dangerous and devastating. As an example, the Caramel Forest Fire near Haifa in December 2010 caused widespread property and ecological damage. It was estimated that 1.5 million trees burned in the fire, and another 4 million trees reportedly burned since then. Nearly half of the 37,000 acres of the Carmel Forest reserve were destroyed in the fire. Most tragic was the loss of 44 lives.
And yet forest fires have an important effect on the eco-system. It’s been said that the forest fires of today lead to healthy forests of tomorrow. The heat and pressure of a fire explodes cones filled with seeds, which are released onto the ground and begin growing shortly after. Dead branches and trees are consumed and the vegetation that begins to grow is healthy and vibrant.
In our history we have seen time and again how we have relentlessly and resiliently risen from the ashes to rebuild. But never was there a greater demonstration of our unyielding eternal resiliency than in the last century. The devastating destroyed forests of Europe bred an explosion of seeds in Eretz Yisroel and America, where they immediately began to re-grow and redevelop.
Perhaps that is the consolation of Tisha B’av. It’s the knowledge that “As much as they would afflict them, so did they increase and so they would spread out” (Shemos 1:12). The pain of the Kinnos is without measure, but the knowledge that after Kinnos we arise with unabated determination – that is our consolation.
I had the great zechus to be in attendance at last night’s Siyum Hashas at Metlife Stadium together with almost 100,000 other Jews. Personally, I went to celebrate my father’s fourth completion of the cycle and my mother’s dedication to that cause. But the event also allowed all of its participants to taste the bliss of national celebration for our accomplishment as a people.
At the siyum, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau passionately noted that that morning in the Shir Shel Yom we beseeched, “O G-d of vengeance Hashem, O G-d of vengeance appear!” and that evening we merited to witness the appearance of that vengeance!
I wondered about that profound statement. Yes, 100,000 Jews had gathered to celebrate the completion of a study that their ruthless adversaries had tried to obliterate in the smokestacks of the crematoria. Still however, it would take another 60 such stadiums to merely replicate the physical loss of that time.
But then I realized that that’s not what the revenge really was. Truthfully, the revenge for the senseless physical torture and genocide of that time will not be realized until Moshiach comes. Rather, it lay in the resurgence of the spirit and soul of our people, which they had sought to extinguish.
In attendance with the 100,000 people was the spirit and soul, not only of the six million, but also all of those mentioned throughout the Kinnos. Beyond that, the souls of Abaye and Rava, and all the great personages of Torah since time immemorial joined together as well. That was the revenge we witnessed last night, and the seeds of that revenge were planted by the barbarians themselves in the inferno they created to destroy it. 
And therein lies our consolation!

              Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
                R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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