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Ta'anis 29

TA'ANIS 27, 28, 29, 30 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael


The Mishnah (26a-26b) relates the five events that befell our forefathers on the Seventeenth of Tamuz and the five events that befell them on the Ninth of Av. The Gemara (29a) tells us that because our forefathers committed such a terrible sin on the Ninth of Av in the times of Moshe, that day became one reserved for destruction. Every year, when that day arrives, the sin of our forefathers is remembered. If we look closely, we will see that the specific events that transpired on these days all clearly expressed the principle of punishment "Midah k'Neged Midah" (measure for measure).

(a) Let us first consider the sin that was committed on Tisha b'Av. The Jewish people sent Meraglim to spy the land, and when the spies returned with their report, the Jewish people rejected the Land of Israel. They relinquished their desire to possess Eretz Yisrael, not even trying to conquer it, although Hashem had already told them of its unique virtues. The destruction of each Beis ha'Mikdash that took place centuries later was more than just a loss of the opportunity to perform the Avodos as commanded by the Torah. It was the event that, symbolically and actually, spelled the end of organized Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael. The destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash and the concept of exile are always considered to be two sides of the same coin by our Sages (See for example Berachos 3a, Chagigah 5b). The Torah itself seems to make this connection: "I will destroy your sanctuary... and I will scatter you among the nations" (Vayikra 26:31-2). Because the Jewish people expressed, on Tisha b'Av, an unwillingness to accept the gift of the Land of Israel, they eventually lost that gift on the same date.

Beitar was the central stronghold of the Bar Kochva rebellion against Rome (Eichah Rabasi 2). About sixty years after the destruction of the second Temple, the Jews, led by the charismatic and courageous Bar Kochva, tried to throw off the Roman yoke. They even succeeded to some degree in establishing an autonomous Jewish state in Israel for several years (132-135 CE). When the Bar Kochva uprising was finally quelled by the Romans with the fall of Betar, it effectively represented the end of any hope of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel for the foreseeable future. This too, then, is clearly an appropriate punishment for the sin of the spies and their rejection of the Land of Israel.

The last of the five events of Tisha b'Av can be interpreted along the same lines. The final razing of Jerusalem was designed to quash any hopes among the Jews for a restoration of their sovereignty, or even of their ability to dwell in the city. Once again, on the very date which marked the Jewish people's original spurning of Eretz Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael was showing its own scorn for the Jewish people.

(b) The punishments for the sin of the Seventeenth of Tamuz were also measure for measure, Midah k'Neged Midah. The most obvious case is that of Menashe's act of placing an idol in the Beis ha'Mikdash, which symbolized replacing the worship of Hashem with that of an idol -- right in Hashem's Beis ha'Mikdash! This was a just punishment for the Jewish people, who had done the same with the worship of the Golden Calf before Mount Sinai -- on the Seventeenth of Tamuz -- centuries earlier.

Because the Jews offered sacrifices to a Golden Calf, Hashem caused the daily Tamid sacrifice to be discontinued on the Seventeenth of Tamuz.

The burning of the Torah by Epistemos was Midah k'Neged Midah since the sin of the Golden Calf caused Moshe to shatter the Luchos. As a punishment for bringing about the destruction of Hashem's Luchos, the Jews of a future era had Hashem's Torah burned before them by a blasphemous ruler, on the Seventeenth of Tamuz.

The breach in the walls of Jerusalem also parallels the sin of the Seventeenth of Tamuz. The Gemara (Bava Basra 7b) tells us that the righteous people and Torah scholars of the generation provide protection to all members of the community, just as a city wall does. As the Gemara says, "'I am a wall' -- this refers to the Torah, which affords protection to its people. 'My breasts are like towers' -- this refers to Torah scholars" (ibid.). When the Jewish people rejected the leadership of Moshe and chose a Golden Calf to lead them instead, they were showing disdain for the ultimate scholar of the Torah. Since Torah scholars are compared to city walls, a fitting punishment for their sin was that the Jews of Jerusalem in a future generation had their protective wall breached on the anniversary of that sinful act of rejection the Torah scholar. (M. Kornfeld)


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