Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Personal Mourning vs Communal Mourning

Many of the halachos of the nine days are learned from the halachos of mourning.  There are, however, two glaring exceptions.  An avel is permitted to have meat and wine, but forbidden to learn Torah.  During the nine days we find just the opposite: we are permitted (encouraged, even) to learn Torah, but forbidden to eat meat and drink wine.

R' Shlomo Zalman Auerback, z"tzl, explains the difference.  The tragedy we mourn during the nine days is an "old sorrow" and requires external physical actions to decrease our joy.  Hence, we refrain from meat and wine; as chazal tell us (Pesachim 109a): "ein simcha ela b'basar v'yayin" (there is no joy/rejoicing without meat and/or wine).  An avel is permitted these because he needs to external influences to feel his sorrow.  Learning Torah, on the other hand, has the potential to generate such simcha that an avel actually could come to  not only forget his sorrow, but actually come to a level of sublime joy.  (You don't feel that way about learning?  A discussion for another day.)  Moreover, wine has the ability to either make one's sorrow more tolerable or to bring one simcha, but not both.  When an avel drinks wine he is fortunate to ease his sorrow, but to bring him to joy is not really withing its power.

So why are we allowed to learn during the nine days?  Since we already don't feel the sorrow as we should, the learning is not a hindrance to the small amount of decrease in joy we are able to achieve by refraining from meat and wine.  Much more to the point, though, is that learning Torah has the ability to actually reverse our situation and bring us back to our land, the avoda of the Bais HaMikdash, and closeness with HaShem.  May that happen soon and in our lifetime.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…