Some Thoughts for Tisha B’Av

The Missing Tears of the Mizbeach

There is a concept that if an Agadata is found in a particular Mesechta in Shas it has an innate connection to that Mesechta. That is why the Agadata of the Churban is found in Gittin, the Laws of divorce since the Galus is considered on a certain level as a divorce between us and HKB”H.

Meseches Gittin ends with the following insight[1]. It says:

Whoever divorces their ‘Zivug Rishon’ first wife, even the Mizbeach cries tears as it says in Malachi …

Why of all the parts of the Bais HaMikdosh does the Mizbeach cry? There are many explanations in the Mefarshim but I would like to suggest one.

There are two Halachos concerning the Mizbeach. One, is that it needs to be a perfect square[2]. The other is that you cannot use metal to cut the stones[3], but you must use the stones in their natural state, without using a metal instrument to cut them. In the way of Agadata, there seems to be a problem. Stones do not come in perfect squares. So making the Mizbeach is like a puzzle. You need to take the stones in their natural shape and without cutting them fit them into a perfect square.

That is a metaphor for a relationship. You cannot cut the other person to be what you want them to be. You need to fit together as you are, and make a perfect shape, without cutting. The idea of ‘first wife’ does not just mean the spouse married first. It means the spouse which was decreed in Heaven that this is your Zivug- match[4]. This is not the place for the explanation of this whole concept, but the Mizbeach cries when the way that HaShem created the world is distorted. This couple is meant to be together, but they misunderstood their relationship, and divorced. They might even feel relieved or even happy that they are divorced, but the Mizbeach knows to cry at the lost opportunity.

The most basic Zivug in the world is between HaShem and Klal Yisroel. This is a Zivug Rishon, as the Torah itself says, ‘Bereishis’ the world was created at first for Reishis, which is Klal Yisroel and the Torah[5]. So when we are sent into Galus we are being divorced from our Zivug Rishson.

But who is left to cry? The divorce is performed not through a Get, but by the destruction of the Bais HaMikdosh. The Mizbeach itself is destroyed, so who cries? There is no Mizbeach? Therefore in this situation we need to cry in place of the Mizbeach. If we do and we understand the mistake in our divorce from HaShem, then we can rebuild the Mizbeach without tears, and reconstruct our relationship with HKB”H the way it is meant to be.

I think we can add one more point. One of the causes of the Churban was Sinas Chinam[6], baseless hatred. Such hatred comes about as a result of seeing someone slightly different and as a result belittling them. The Mizbeach represents the integration of all the various possibilities of stones, joined together to form a harmonious unit. There are stones which cannot be used for the Mizbeach, but sometimes we err and even the ones that can be used we erroneously invalidate. That is Sinas Chinam, and through our crying over the destruction of the Mizbeach, and taking action to form a harmonious whole of the Jewish people, we can rebuild the Mizbeach, that instead of crying, the Mizbeach itself will laugh with us.

That could be why the Avoda which is performed at the happiest time of the year is to circle the Mizbeach. On Sukkot, we take the Arava, what seems to represent those people in Klal Yisroel who have no connection to Torah and Mitzvot, and we circle the Mizbeach. That is the greatest Simcha, to join together all the various aspects of Klal Yisroel around the Mizbeach and celebrate our Achdus.

The Darkness of the Churban

One of the Minhagim of Tisha B’Av is to light a minimal amount of light in the Shul. Very simply, we know that the Menorah was actually the place from where the light went out to the world. Once that is destroyed how can there be any more light left? So we darken our lamps to realize what we are missing.

May this Tisha B’Av be a Yeshua for the Klal and the individual in all they need.

[1]  גיטין דף צ/ב – דאמר רבי אלעזר כל המגרש אשתו ראשונה אפילו מזבח מוריד עליו דמעות שנאמר וזאת שנית תעשו כסות דמעה את מזבח ה’ בכי ואנקה מאין [עוד] פנות אל המנחה ולקחת רצון מידכם ואמרתם על מה על כי ה’ העיד בינך ובין אשת נעוריך אשר אתה בגדתה בה והיא חברתך ואשת בריתך:

[2]  רמב”ם הלכות בית הבחירה פרק ב – (יז) ארבע קרנות של מזבח ויסודו ורבועו מעכבין וכל מזבח שאין לו קרן יסוד וכבש וריבוע הרי הוא פסול שארבעתן מעכבין

[3] רמב”ם הלכות בית הבחירה פרק א  – (טו) אבני היכל ועזרות שנפגמו או שנגממו פסולין ואין להן פדיון אלא נגנזים כל אבן שנגע בה הברזל אע”פ שלא נפגמה פסולה לבנין המזבח ובנין הכבש שנאמר כי חרבך הנפת עליה ותחללה והבונה אבן שנגע בה ברזל במזבח או בכבש לוקה שנאמר לא תבנה אתהן גזית והבונה אבן פגום עובר בעשה:

[4] מאירי סוטה – אלא אף בזווג ראשון שנאמר בו ענין בת פלוני לפלוני

[5]  בתי מדרשות חלק ב – מדרש אותיות רבי עקיבא השלם נוסח א – אות ב  – דבר אחר מה תלמוד לומר בראשית בשביל שלשה שנקראו ראשית ואלו הן תורה וישראל ויראה תורה מנין שנאמר (משלי ח כב) יי קנני ראשית דרכו ישראל מנין שנאמר (ירמיה ב ג) קדש ישראל ליי ראשית תבואתה יראה מנין שנאמר (תהלים קיא י) ראשית חכמה יראת יי תורה בשביל ישראל שנאמר (ישעיה מג כב) עם זו יצרתי לי תהלתי יספרו ומנין שעם זו ישראל שנאמר (שמות טו טז) עם זו קנית ישראל בשביל יראה שנאמר (דברים י יב) ועתה ישראל מה יי אלהיך שואל מעמך כי אם ליראה את יי אלהיך:

[6] יומא דף ט/ב  – אבל מקדש שני שהיו עוסקין בתורה ובמצות וגמילות חסדים מפני מה חרב מפני שהיתה בו שנאת חנם


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