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TISHA B'OV SELECTIONS 5766 BS"D
There is a well-known gemara in Sotah 49b which relates that when the Romans beseiged the city of Jerusalem in the time of the second Beis Hamikdosh, the Jews ran out of numerous supplies. Included amongst these were the sheep required for the twice daily Korban Tomid. This was solved by the Jews lowering a basket of gold coins over the wall of the city, in return for which two sheep were sent back to them in the basket.
Someone on the inside sent the Romans a message, that as long as bnei Yisroel had the merit of the daily Temidim, the enemy would be unable to conquer the city. The next day, instead of two sheep, a pig was put into the basket. The pig was being hoisted up in the basket, and before it reached half way up, it thrust its claws into the wall and the entire 400 by 400 parsoh length and breadth of Eretz Yisroel quaked. After this, the wall was breached, leading to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh itself.
Why didn't the enemy just leave the basket empty? They had already received payment. Why bother replacing the two sheep with anything?
The Medrash Vayikroh Rabboh Ch. 13 says that the four species of non-kosher animals which have only one sign of kashrus, split hooves or chewing its cud, rumenation, but lacks the second sign, correspond to the four exiles which the bnei Yisroel experienced. The pig corresponds to our present day exile, golus Edom. What is the symbolism in this comparison?
The GR"A of Vilna explains that the pig is unique, not only among these four species, but among all the animals in the world, in that it is the only one that has split hooves, but does not chew its cud. The other three species chew their cud, and their common sign of non-kashrus, non-split hooves, is visible externally. Not so the pig, which externally looks kosher, but internally is lacking the sign of chewing its cud.
With this the Vilna Gaon explains the gemara Yoma 9b. Rabbi Yochanan and Rabbi Elozor both said that those living in the time of the first Beis Hamikdosh committed sins which were well-known. Just as their sins were well-known, so was the time of the completion of their exile known to them. Those living in the time of the second Beis Hamikdosh committed sins which were not obvious, so the time of completion of their exile would likewise remain unknown.
Reb Yochonan said that the fingernail of people living during the first Beis Hamikdosh is better than the stomach of those living in the second. The Vilna Goan explains this enigmatic statement of Reb Yochonan as follows: Those living during the first Beis Hamikdosh, who committed obvious sins, resemble the three species which have obvious external signs of non-kashrus.
Those living during the second Beis Hamikdosh, committed the sin of "sinas chinom," baseless hatred, which like all emotions, is hidden from the eye. Now we understand Reb Yochonan's symbolism of the finger and the stomach. The finger, the non-split hoof, is the overt sign of non-kashrus. The stomach, hidden within the animal which does not chew its cud, symbolizes hidden sins.
On the basis of the GR"A's explanation, we can answer the question we asked above. The Romans did not leave the basket empty, because that would have meant that the bnei Yisroel could not fulfill the mitzvoh of bringing the Tomid sacrifice only because of the lack of access to sheep. Rather, they sent a pig which externally looks kosher. In their attempt to destroy Judaism, they offered a pig, indicating that the pig is also kosher.
The Romans were aware that Judaism could be more greatly damaged by excercising a false, artificial Judaism, than by refraining from fulfilling a mitzvoh through lack of ability to do so. This concept is embodied in the split hooves of the pig. When it was being pulled up the wall in a basket, it thrust its hooves into the wall of Jerusalem, breaching the city's sanctity. Specifically, its hooves symbolize false Judaism which sends a message to the people, "Accept me too as a Korban Tomid because I appear kosher." This falsification of Judaism was so devastating that it shook the sanctity of the length and breadth of the land.
It stands to reason that if our sages tell us that the pig is symbolic of the exile of Edom, it means that the characteristic of the pig is reflected in the nature of the exile's challenges.
Indeed, our exile has undergone in the past, and continues to presently undergo, challenges represented by many "isms" which represent falsified, anti-Torah values, which seem to be packaged in a "kosher" setting.
May we merit to overcome these challenges and see the coming of Moshiach and the building of the Beis Hamikdosh speedily in our days! Amen!
OROH V'SIMCHOH - MESHECH CHOCHMOH ON TISHA B'OV
Ch. 1, v. 2: "Bocho sivkeh balayloh v'dimosoh al lecheyoh" - The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that there are times when one cries to elicit mercy. However, this is usually done by day, when there are people about to respond to the crying. There is crying that has nothing to do with other people responding, for example, one who is greatly pained by the passing of a loved one. This brings one to cry even when there is no one nearby to respond. Our verse says the crying that took place at the time of the destruction of Yerusholayim was of the latter type. This is indicated by "crying at night" when no one is awake and around to offer sympathy. As well, "v'dimosoh al lecheyoh," - her tear remains on her cheek. When someone sees the crying of another, out of compassion he wipes the tear off the other's cheek, as we find in Yeshayohu 25:8, "u'mocho Hashem Elokim dimoh mei'al kol ponim." Our verse tells us that there will be no one to console the mourners of Yerusholayim at the time of its destruction.
Ch. 1, v. 2: "Kol rei'ehoh bogdu voh hoyu loh l'oivim" - All her friends rebelled in her. Read "rei'ehoh," her friends, as "ro'ehoh," those who are bad to her. An indication to their negative intentions is that they were her enemies even during times of peaceful coexistence. This is expressed in our verse by the choice of the word "l'oivim." An "oyeiv" is a covert enemy, while a "sonei" is one who is an overt enemy. Even during times of peace, hatred was harboured in the hearts of her neighbours. I find some difficulty with this, as the verse in Mishlei 27:6 says, "v'naatoros n'shikos SONEI." The gemara Taanis 20a says that this refers to the blessings of Bilom, which seemingly were positive, yet had a hidden intention of negativity (see opinion of the Malbim). There are other opinions as to the difference between an "oyeiv" and a "sonei."
1) The GR"A in A'derres Eliyohu on Dvorim 32:35 says that an "oyeiv" is an enemy who is one's adversary regarding material matters, while a "sonei" is an enemy regarding spiritual matters. Thus, he concludes that a "so'nei" is a greater hater than an "oyeiv" because spiritual matters are more important than physical matters. He brings a proof from T'hilim 21:9 which says, "Timtzo yodcho l'chol oyvecho y'mincho timtzo sonecho." The "y'min," the right hand, connotes the more dominant and powerful. Thus the verse is saying that Hashem will extract retribution from his "sonim," the greater haters in a more powerful way. Those who say the opposite of the GR"A will no doubt say that the right hand connotes mercy, while the left is symbolic of strict judgement.
2) Rabbeinu Bachyei on the words "al oyvecho v'al sonecho" (Dvorim 30) quotes the M.R. that "oyvecho" refers to Yishmo'eil, while "sonecho" refers to Eisov. He says that the term "oyeiv" is used for Yishmo'eil because it connotes hatred of the severest form, and is inherent in the word itself, containing the same letters as the anguished painful cry "avoy," while the term "sinoh" connotes a lesser form of hatred, which is tempered by a bit of mercy. Yishmo'eil has the characteristic of severe hatred as he is the son of Hogor, while Eisov has some mercy because he is the son of Rivkoh. He adds that this is the reason the medrash says that it is better to be under the hand of Eisov than under the hand of Yishmo'eil. This also explains why Hashem says that He will administer punishment even to the fourth generation "l'sonoy," (Shmos 20:5), indicating that a "soneh" will exist to even four generations, while "V'oyvei Hashem kikor korim kolu ve'oshon kolu," (T'hilim 37:20), an "oyeiv" will be totally annihilated. He explains that the reason the Torah mentions the "oyeiv" before the "soneh" is because the verse goes on to say "asher r'dofucho," and historically the bnei Yisroel were mostly under the boot of Eisov. Perhaps there is a simple reason for the order. Since the verse begins "V'nosan Hashem Elokecho es kol ho'olose ho'ei'leh," that Hashem will place all the curses upon our enemies, it is logical to say that this will be done not only to the more severe enemies, but even to the lesser enemies. See more on the concept that Yishmo'eil is the bnei Yisroel's arch foe in Eitz Hadaas Tov from Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal on T'hilim #124. His words are literally present day history!
3) Haksav V'hakaboloh on Breishis 3:15 says that an "oyeiv" is a more intense hater than a "sonei," in agreement with Rabbeinu Bachyei. He brings a proof from T'hilim 139:22, where it says, "Tachlis sinoh snei'sim l'oivim hoyu li." This is somewhat the reverse of the opinion of the GR"A.
4) The Rada"k in Sefer Hashoroshim on Alef-Yud-Veis says that the term "eivoh" is the same as "sinoh." On Sin-Nun-Alef he seems to indicate that "sinoh" is a lesser form of hatred (same as opinion of Haksav V'hakaboloh) since we find "ki snu'oh Leah" (Breishis 29:31) and "ho'achas ahuvoh v'ho'achas snu'oh" (Dvorim 21:15). Surely these verses don't mean hated, but rather, less loved than the other.
5) The Malbim says that a "sonei" is one whose hatred is within and is in regard to a concept, not a person, a nation, etc. We find this in Shmos 18:21, "sonei betza," and in Mishlei 15:10, "Sonei tochochose." He does not wish the downfall of that to which he is opposed. (I find it difficult to reconcile this point with the gemara Taanis 20a mentioned earlier, as the gemara refers to the term SONEI in Mishlei 27:6 and applies it to Bilom, who surely wanted the downfall ch"v of the bnei Yisroel.) He is only opposed to it and finds it most distasteful. An "oyeiv" is one who displays his hatred overtly (the opposite of the opinion of the MESHECH CHOCHMOH), and wishes the downfall of that to which he is opposed, but does not attack his enemy. The GR"A mentioned earlier also adds this last point, that an "oyeiv" does not attack his enemy. Both the GR"A and the Malbim end by saying that a "tzar" is one who hates so severely that he even acts to bring about the downfall of his enemy.
Ch. 1, v. 8: "Chate chotoh Yerusholayim al kein l'nidoh hoyosoh" - The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that the double expression "chate chotoh" indicates that the people of Yerusholayim sinned repetitively. The gemara Kidushin 40a says that when one repetitively sins, he considers his sin as totally permitted. Thus when he continues to sin he has no shame. This is the intention of the end of the verse, equating the repetitive sinner with a menstruating woman. She has no shame when this occurs, as it is a repetitive cycle and is considered a normal bodily function.
Ch. 1, v. 10: "Yodo poras tzor al kol machama'dehoh" - The Medrash Eichoh Raboh P'sichto #11 says that had the bnei Yisroel merited they would have read the verse, "v'lo yachmode ish es artzecho" (Shmos 34:24). Since they did not merit this, they instead read, "Yodo poras tzor al kol machama'dehoh." The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that normally, when a person is jealous of what another has, this is only when the jealous one values the object. If it has no value in his eyes, even if another has it and he does not, this raises no feelings of jealousy. Regarding the Torah this is not the case. Intrinsically the Torah is "more precious than gold .." (T'hilim 19:11), but in spite of this the nations of the world do not value it. To the contrary, they mistakenly even consider the Torah a burden. If so, why do they attempt to disrupt the bnei Yisroel from studying and complying with the Torah? It is only because they know that it is so very dear to the bnei Yisroel. This is the intention of the Medrash Eichoh Raboh. If the bnei Yisroel had sufficient merit, the nations of the world would not lust their land, even though it has value to the nations. They will instead be satisfied with their own lands, even though their lands are inferior to Eretz Yisroel. Once there is not sufficient merit to protect the bnei Yisroel, the nations will lust to take away all of bnei Yisroel's precious possessions, "kol machama'deHOH," the Torah and mitzvos, even that which is precious only TO HER, and not to them.
Ch. 1, v. 17: "Svivov tzorov hoysoh Yerusholayim l'nidoh bei'nei'hem" - The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains these words with the Gemara P'sochim 111a. The gemara states that when a menstruating woman walks between two men, she either causes one of them to be killed or causes them to have strife. These words are a consolation for the bnei Yisroel. Even though the bnei Yisroel are surrounded by their enemies, "svivov tzorov," nevertheless, Hashem either causes the enemies to die or brings about internal strife among them, since the bnei Yisroel are in their midst, "hoysoh Yerusholayim l'nidoh bei'nei'hem."
Ch. 1, v. 17: "Hoysoh Yerusholayim l'nidoh bei'nei'hem" - The gemara Brochos 17a says: Rabbi Alexandri said at the end of his prayers, "It is our wish to do Your bidding, but the rising agent in the dough and enslavement to the nations of the world stand in the way." The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains these words homiletically. The bnei Yisroel are saying that their non-compliance with the wishes of Hashem is not a result of internal defiance, but rather, outside factors bring it about. This is to be equated to impurity that comes to a person from the outside, "tumas mago umasso," which is pushed aside by the action of a congregation, "tumoh hutroh/d'chuyoh b'tzibur," and is not impurity that emanates from the body, which is much more stringent (see Sedrah Selections parshas Chukas 5759 - words of the Holy Admor of Satmar). Thus Rabbi Alexandri said this specifically at the end of his praying with a quorum, attaining the power of a congregation that pushes away the external impurity caused by the influence of the nations of the world. This is expressed in Shir Hashirim 1:6, "Al tiruni shesh'zofasni hashemesh," which the M.R. (ad loc.) explains means that one should not look upon the darkened appearance of the bnei Yisroel, indicating negative traits, as internal. Rather, it is the result of outside influences, just as a fair-skinned person whose skin is tanned by exposure to the sun is not intrinsically dark-skinned, but rather, is darkened by being tanned through exposure to the sun. This is the intention of the verse "Rochoke mei'r'sho'im Hashem u'sfilas tzadikim yishma" (Mishlei 15:29). Hashem is distanced from evil people, "U'sfilas tzadikim," but TOGETHER WITH the prayers of the righteous He hears even the prayers of evil doers, as they are evil only because of outside influences, and with the power of the "tzibur" their impurity is pushed away and their prayers are heard. (I heard that the word "tzibur," spelled Tzadi-Bes-Reish, is an acronym for Tzaddikim, Beinonim, R'sho'im.)
This is what the gemara Taanis 20a means when it explains our words in Eichoh, saying that these words are a blessing. The enemy looks upon us as a menstruating woman. Her impurity is internal, coming from her body. Because they consider the bnei Yisroel so impure, saying that the character flaws they see in us are not the result of exposure to them, but rather, intrinsic to the bnei Yisroel, they would not mix socially, and this kept the bnei Yisroel from joining their nation. Rabbi Yehudoh in the name of Rav says that the truth is that the bnei Yisroel are equated to a "nidoh" in a different aspect. Just as a "nidoh" is able to purify herself, so too, Yerusholayim will be purified. (MESHECH CHOCHMOH on Bmidbar 19:13)
A question can be raised on the gemara Taanis 20a. Why does the gemara not bring the earlier verse, "Chate chotoh Yerusholayim al kein l'nidoh hoyosoh?" Upon looking at the word "l'nidoh" in context an answer might arise. In verse 8 it says that because she has sinned she HAS BECOME a "nidoh." In our verse it says that she WAS a "nidoh." The connotation that "she WAS a 'nidoh' but has the ability to purify herself" lends itself much more easily to our verse than the verse 8, where it says that "she AS BECOME a 'nidoh.'"
Ch. 2, v. 13: "Moh a'i'deich" - The Medrash Eichoh Raboh 2:17 and M.R. Shir Hashirim 4:5 say that Rabbi Yochonon stated that at the time of the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai 600,000 angels descended from heaven and placed a crown on each of the 600,000 adult male bnei Yisroel who accepted the Torah. Rabbi Aba bar Kahana said in the name of Rabbi Yochonon that 1,200,000 angels descended, placing two crowns on each person. This is the intent of "Moh a'i'deich," - how extravagantly have I adorned you. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that the two opinions mentioned in the medroshim follow the two opinions mentioned in the Mechilta in parshas Yisro, parshas "bachodesh" parsha 4. Rabbi Yishmo'eil says that to each positive Commandment the bnei Yisroel responded, "Yes (we will fulfill it)," and to each negative Commandment they responded, "No (we will not transgress it)." Rabbi Akiva says that to each positive Commandment the bnei Yisroel responded, "Yes (we will fulfill it)," and to each negative Commandment they responded, "Yes (we will refrain from transgressing it)." According to the opinion of Rabbi Yishmo'eil that they responded with two different expressions, "yes" and "no," each person received two crowns. According to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva that the same word was used as a response to both the positive and negative Commandments, each person received only one crown.
Ch. 3, v. 21: "Zose oshiv el libi" - The Medrash Eichoh Raboh P'sichto #21 states: Rabbi Yosi ben Chalafta says that whoever knows how many years the bnei Yisroel sinned with idol worship knows when the son of Dovid, the Moshiach, will come. The MESHECH CHECHMOH explains the intention of Rabbi Yosi. Our verse says that Hashem keeps something in His heart and does not allow it to be known to others, as per the words of the Medrash Koheles Raboh 12:10, "Liba l'fuma lo galia," the heart does not disclose to the mouth. Idol worship is a sin that is unique in that although with other sins one is only considered having sinned when he has actually transgressed them and not when he has only contemplated doing so, idol worship is considered as if it were perpetrated even if it only remained in the realm of thought (gemara Kidushin 40a). This being the case, only Hashem is capable of knowing who has and who hasn't sinned with idol worship, as it is also a sin when one only thought to do it. Even angels don't know the thoughts of a person's mind (Shalo"h page 45b). Thus Rabbi Yosi is saying that Hashem, Who is the only One Who knows how long they sinned, knows when the Moshiach will come.
Ch. 5, v. 18: "Al Har Tzion shesho'meim shu'olim hilchu vo" - The Medrash Eichoh Raboh 5:19 relates the following incident: Rabbon Gamli'eil, Rabbi Elozor ben Azarioh, Rabbi Yehoshua, and Rabbi Akiva were together. They came close to the location of the Beis Hamikdosh, which was recently destroyed. They noticed a fox leaving the area of the Holy of Holies. All the Rabbis began crying, except Rabbi Akiva, who laughed. The Rabbis said to Rabbi Akiva, "You always do things that startle us." (The medrash had just related numerous episodes where these same Rabbis responded to situations by crying and Rabbi Akiva responded by laughing.) The Rabbis explained that they were deeply pained by seeing a fox leave such a holy location unscathed, thus indicating that its sanctity is gone. Rabbi Akiva responded that this incident is the fulfillment of a prophecy and coupled with that prophecy is a second one stating that Yerusholayim and the Sanctuary will be rebuilt and people will dwell there safely. He said that we are thus assured that the second prophecy will also be fulfilled. The Rabbis responded, "You have consoled us. So too, may you be consoled by the 'footsteps of he who will herald'" (Yeshayohu 52:7) (the arrival of the Moshiach). The gemara Makos 24b relates this incident, but with some variations in their dialogue.
The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains as follows: The Rabbis feared that Rabbi Akiva was not concerned by the desecration of the Beis Hamikdosh because he thought that salvation was at hand in the form of Bar Kozivo, the false son, formerly called Bar Kochvo, whom Rabbi Akiva once thought was the Moshiach, as related earlier in the medrash 2:5. Rabbi Akiva responded that once the earlier prophecy of Urioh was now being fulfilled, he was assured that IN THE END the prophecy of Z'charioh would also be fulfilled. By saying IN THE END, Rabbi Akiva indicated that he was convinced by Rabbi Yochonon ben Torto that Bar Kozivo was a false moshiach. The salvation will come later, and is not at hand through the personage of Bar Kozivo. The Rabbis therefore responded, "May you be consoled with the footsteps of the heralder." The true Moshiach will be preceded by one who will herald his coming, the prophet Eliyohu, not like Bar Kozivo, whom Rabbi Akiva once thought was the Moshiach, who was not preceded by a heralder.
N.B. For those who will look into the sources noted above: Some locations mentioned in the Medrash Eichoh Raboh might be off by a section or two in your print. There are varying divisions in different editions of the medrash.
V'yeihofchu ha'yomim ho'eilu li'mei oroh v'simchoh, uvo l'Tzion Go'eil bb"o.
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