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.


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: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…