This Rosh Chodesh Av, after the pre-Rosh Chodesh Mincha and Yom Kippur Katan telfillos, Rav Malinowitz of Bet Knesset Bet Tefilla spoke about the Torah perspective on the current situation.
One of the concepts that Rav Malinowitz discussed is the concept of communal suffering vs. individual suffering. Briefly, when an individual suffers, the individual should examine his life and try to understand where he should improve. On the other hand, when there is suffering on a communal level, while individuals may choose to examine and improve themselves, the suffering is not necessarily caused by the actions of the individual people suffering, but by the actions of the larger community.
Another concept that Rav Malinowitz discussed was Midah Kenegged Midah. This principle is very solidly founded in Torah literature. As one example, Rav Malinowitz cited Pharoah’s decision to kill all Jewish boys by drowning them in the Nile. Pharoah based this decision on the very well accepted principle that Hashem punishes Midah Kenegged Midah. Since Pharoah knew that Hashem had promised not to ever destroy the world again with water, Pharoah felt that Hashem would not be able to punish him Midah Kenegged Midah with water, so he would be safe if he used water to kill Jewish children.
The explanation of the use of Midah Kenegged Midah is very simple. Since Hashem does not speak directly to us, He makes sure that we get the message in other ways. Midah Kenegged Midah speaks for itself. When you do something wrong, the Midah Kenegged Midah itself makes it clear that it is a punishment for the thing you did wrong.
Last year, Jews put Jews out of their homes. Last year Jews destroyed Jewish homes. Last year, at the hands of fellow Jews, thousands of Jews lost their source of income, lost their possessions, lost their communities. Some lost their lives to the suffering, and many, as a result of the suffering, especially youth, lost their sense of self-worth, their sense of grounding, and sadly have fallen into dangerous lows. To this very day, many of those same Jews are still wandering, awaiting a permanent home, a permanent community, an end to their limbo. As a communal tragedy, the individuals who suffered are not necessarily (in this case, certainly are NOT) the cause of the suffering. It is the community at large, the Rabim that caused this suffering to happen in our midst.
This year, once again, Jews are being put out of their homes, Jewish homes are being destroyed, possession are being lost, businesses are crumbling, communities are being broken apart, Jews are wandering and displaced. Last year, we had a long time to prepare for the possibility that Jews would be out on the street, and yet when the time came, there weren’t enough places for everyone to go. Ten day stays in temporary settings turned into ten months, or even tents. This time, there was no time to plan. Once again, the same temporary settings look like they will last a lot longer than initially expected.
We can’t ignore the obvious. To refuse to connect the dots from last year’s Three Weeks to this year’s Three Weeks is to refuse to recognize one of Hashem’s methods of communicating with us. The communal “we” are getting what we deserve. If we don’t sit down and work out what it is that we are doing wrong, we are likely to have to keep learning the hard way.
After Rav Malinowitz’s shiur, David Morris from Lema’an Achai got up to speak. Bet Shemesh will, IY’H – and to our great sorrow for the need – be absorbing about one thousand refugees from the North over the next month. Many are already here. They need to be housed, they need to be fed, their clothes need to be laundered, their children need things to do to keep them occupied (does any of this sound familiar?). He made a powerful appeal for people to help finance this huge undertaking and to give of their time and talents as well.
Anyone wanting to hear Rav Malinowitz’s drasha themselves, it’s
available as an MP3 file (14 MB – 1 hour) from:
http://www.beistefillahshiurim.org/ under the heading (in red) “Rav Malinowitz’s drasha after Yom Kippur Katan davening Erev Rosh Chodesh Av 5766.”
Those wishing to donate funds to enable Lema’an Achai to accomodate the needs of 1,000 people from the North who will be staying in Beit Shemesh/Ramat Beit Shemesh for the duration of Northern hostilities, click here or go directly to the Lema’an Achai website.