Former Shaliach in Chicago
On Tisha B’Av, we mourn Yerushalayim’s destruction and our dispersion throughout the Diaspora. Yet, once the mourning process ends, we must look forward to a better future.
The Gemara (BT Shabbat 31a) famously teaches that at the end of one’s life, one is asked three questions – including, “tzipita l’yeshuah?” (“Did you anticipate the redemption?”) Clearly, we must allow this anticipation to guide us throughout our lives.
When we anticipate the redemption, we recognize that we have not yet achieved our final destiny. Moreover, we dream of something which lies beyond our current reality, and we look at the present situation differently.
If we truly appreciate what we have lost, we will move past our mourning and come to understand that we have not yet reached our ultimate objective. Furthermore, we will take the necessary steps, which will lead us towards that goal. Thus, anticipating the redemption does not mean that we can sit back and passively await salvation. Rather, we must play an active role in the process.
Chazal (Talmud Yerushalmi – Yoma 1:1) state:
“Every generation which did not witness the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, it is considered as if it was destroyed in that generation.”
How can this be?
The answer may be found in Parshat VaEtchanan. Am Yisrael is about to enter Eretz Yisrael, and in Parshat Devarim, Moshe begins his final address to the nation. After a brief introduction, he provides his listeners with a historical overview of all the events leading up to this moment. This account continues into our parsha, and then Moshe resumes his original speech.
At first glance, this history lesson seems to be out of place. However, it serves as a reminder that we are each a link in the chain of Jewish history. Our lives in the present do not exist in a vacuum; they are connected to our roots in the past and also to our future destiny. Our starting point is where the previous generation left off, but then it is our responsibility to continue moving forward.
Similarly, despite our best efforts, we may not be privileged to see the rebuilt Beit HaMikdash.But if we view ourselves as part of the chain of history and if we aspire to reach our goals, we will take action. In this way, we add bricks and work towards the rebuilding of the Mikdash.
This week, we mourned, but we cannot live our lives dwelling entirely in the past. In recent generations, we have made significant advances. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go. May our memories and our aspirations goad us to action, and may we be privileged to realize our dreams.