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I wrote this article last year as part of a series about the Jewish holidays, during the Nine Days.
I Thought That He Loved Me
My father really let me have it.
It was many years ago that my father gave me such a stinging slap and threw me out of the house. I’ll never forget the pain, and I can still hear the ringing in my ears. I was shocked at the time, I thought that he loved me, I thought that we were buddies.
The years have gone by and now I am a father, and I understand now that it was not an act of hatred, it was an act of love. He does love me, and we are buddies, but he’s dead serious that I behave myself and not get out of hand. Why is that? Because he loves me. Exactly that.
Last year on Shabbos Chazon, at Shalosh Seudos, I heard a beautiful idea from the Rav who hosted the event:
During these days Nishmas Yisroel rises up in importance and beauty. The gemora recounts that one of the great Talmudic sages, Rebbe Eliezer Ze’ira, one day started putting on black shoes. They asked him why was he wearing black shoes? He answered in order to mourn over Yerushalayim. They answered back, who are you to do extra to mourn for Yerushalayim? And they threw him in jail.
To put yourself forward and mourn for someone, or something, demands that there exists a certain level of relationship, otherwise it is odd. Who can mourn for Yerushalayim? Are you a mechutan with Yerushalayim?
The Rav told the story that when he went to pay a shiva call at the home of one of the late great sages, that he was moved to say to one of the younger sons, “I see that until today I lacked a certain appreciation of you that I didn’t internalize before. The passing of your father was a blow to the whole Jewish people. Everyone is broken, everyone is mourning.
Then why am I sitting on this side and you are sitting on that side? Why am I coming to comfort you, and you are not coming to comfort me?
The answer is because you are a son of R. Shlomo Zalman and I am not. That is what separates us. That is your greatness that I do not share.”
Who Sits Shiva
When a Neshama leaves the world to its eternal home in Heaven, who mourns, who sits shiva?
Only the seven closest relatives — the children, the parents, the siblings, the spouse.
When the revelation of the Shechina departs from the world, who mourns, who sits shiva, so to speak?
We do. We are sitting shiva so to speak on Tisha B’av.
These are the days that the Nishmas Yisroel rises up in importance and beauty, as the close ones, as the children so to speak, of the Shechina. Banim Atem LaShem Elokaichem.
May we be amongst those who will see with their own two eyes the nechamas Tzion and the haramas keren Yisroel.