Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Tish'oh be'Av

Fearing Man and G-d

The decree of the first exile was initially limited to seventy years, explains the Gemoro in Yuma (9b), because their sin was revealed. Their sin was revealed, therefore the duration of the exile was revealed too. The second exile on the other hand, was hidden - it was decreed for an unspecified number of years, because their sin was hidden.


Rashi explains this to mean that, whereas in the time of the first Beis ha'Mikdosh they made no attempt to cover up their sins, in the time of the second, they did. They would eat and drink together, as if they were the best of friends, explains the Maharsho, but in their hearts, they hated each other and held each other in contempt. The Maharsho compares this to Raban Yochonon ben Zakai, who explained to his disciples that a thief pays double whereas a robber does not, because the former is afraid of people ( which is why he steals on the quiet), but not of G-d (since he carries through the act even though he knows that G-d is his witness) whilst the latter does his work in broad daylight because he is not afraid of being seen (Bovo Kama 79b). And it is the same Raban Yochonon ben Zakai who blessed his disciples on his death-bed that they should fear G-d no less than they fear man. Most people do not, he explained to them, as is evident from the fact that before they sin, they turn round to see whether anyone is looking.


Someone who is no more afraid of people than he is of G-d will be taken to task for not being afraid of G-d, though he will not be taken to ask for abusing the trait of fear. But someone who fears people more than he fears G-d will be taken to task for both. And besides, it is far more difficult for the former to develop a fear which does not come to him naturally, than it is for the latter (who has already developed a fear of people and needs only to adopt that fear and harness it to use to fear G-d). Therefore, his sin is less severe.

The latter, for his part, will be asked why it is that if he was able to muster the necessary fear to stop him from doing things that he did not wish people to see, he could he not do the same to prevent himself from doing things that he would not wish G-d to see. Unless of course, he is lacking in conviction, either that G-d sees everything or that everything that a person does is recorded and will be held in evidence against him when the time arrives.


Perhaps, you may ask, the analogy is unfair. After all, it is possible to perform an act without being seen by people (leaving the would-be perpetrator the choice of time and place), but not without being seen by G-d (so what alternative does he have). The question misses the point. The fact is that a person whose fear is genuine, will not sin, for fear of being caught. That being the case, someone whose fear of G-d is genuine, will certainly not sin, because he knows for sure that he will get caught. And if he nevertheless does sin - then his fear of G-d cannot be genuine.


The Maharsho there, asks a kashya which he basically leaves unanswered. We just concluded that hiding one's sin is worse than performing it openly. Why does the Gemoro say in Chagigoh (16a) that someone who is unable to refrain from sinning should wear black clothes and go to a place where he is not known, in order to sin secretly and avoid desecrating G-d's Name in public?

According to Rabeinu Chananel, who explains that the combination of wearing black clothes and going to live in a place where he is unknown, will prevent him from sinning, the kashya of course, falls away. But even according to Tosfos (d.h. 've'ya'aseh'), who explains the Gemoro literally, there are two ways to answer this kashya.

1) That the Gemoro specifically writes 'and avoid desecrating G-d's Name in public' i.e. in front of ten people. But where the sin is performed in front of only a few people, it would be preferable not to hide the sin when he performs it, as we explained.

2) We have been speaking until now about hiding one's sin because one is afraid of being seen by people. That is abuse of fear. But the Gemoro in Chagigoh is speaking about someone who avoids sinning in front of people to avoid chillul Hashem (not because he is afraid of people) - that is praiseworthy.


False Pretences

Until now, we have discussed the Maharsho's interpretation of Rashi in Yumo. One might however, view Rashi differently.

Based on the Maharsho's opening comment where he explained how in the first Beis ha'Mikdosh, they sinned openly, whereas in the second they tricked each other, pretending to be friends ... , one might elaborate in the following way.

Our sages have taught us that 'the seal of Hakodosh Boruch Hu is truth' (Shabbos 55a), indeed the Torah has written "Keep far away from falsehood". It is clear that G-d loves the truth and despises lies. (See also Rashi, Bereishis 37:4 regarding Chazal's praise of Yosef's brothers for displaying this trait). Consequently, in the time of the first Beis ha'Mikdosh, when, at least they performed their sins with integrity, the length of the exile was revealed. But in the time of the second, when they tricked each other and behaved with cunning and deceit, their sin was infinitely worse, and so their exile was unspecified.

Perhaps one may add, when the sins are performed in this manner, it becomes progressively more difficult to come to terms with the sin, since people who sin in this way tend to deny that they have sinning. Consequently, the sin becomes protracted, and so does the punishment.


Interestingly, the Torah writes in Kedoshim (19:17) "Do not hate your brother in your heart" (see Rashbam), which is precisely the la'av that they transgressed in the time of the second Beis ha'Mikdosh.


Adapted from the Kitzur Shulchon Oruch (Siman 124)
with notes from the Mishnah B'rurah

MH - Misgeres ha'Shulchon
MB - Mishnah B'rurah

30. One returns the Poroches to the Oron ha'Kodesh before Minchah. One puts on Talis and Tefilin, recites the appropriate b'rochos and recites the 'Shir shel yom' together with any other sections of davening that one may have omitted at Shachris.

Ashrei, half-Kaddish, with leining and the Haftorah as on a regular Ta'anis Tzibur ('Vayechal' and 'Dirshu Hashem'). One returns the Seifer-Torah and the shatz recites half-Kaddish. In the Amidah, insert "Nacheim' in the b'rochoh of ve'li'Yerusholayim. If one forgot to say it, then say it after 'Aneinu' (in Shomei'a Tefiloh), but without a b'rochoh - just continue 'ki Atto shomei'a' (the MH maintains that one should rather insert it before "Ve'seche'zeno eineinu' without a b'rochoh). If one still forgot to say it, and remembered only after saying 'Boruch Atto Hashem' of 'shomei'a tefiloh', then he simply leaves it out. (One may however, insert it before the second 'yihyu le'rotzon' at the end of the Amidah.) (Either way, one does not conclude with a b'rochoh.) In the repetition of the Shemoneh esrei, the shatz says 'birchas Cohanim' (and 'Sim Sholom'), Kaddish tiskabeil; remove the Tefilin.



31. One davens Ma'ariv. If the moon is shining, one makes Kiddush Levonoh, but not before having eaten (as opposed to Yom Kippur, when one may recite Kiddush Levonoh before eating, since one is full of joy at having attained atonement). (One should also put on one's shoes before Kiddush Levonoh - MH).


The 9th and the 10th Av

32. We have learned in a B'raysa: 'On the 7th Av the Romans entered the Beis Hamikdosh, where they at,e drank and caused havoc on the 7th and the 8th of Av. On the 9th, towards evening, they set fire to it, and it continued to burn right through the 10th until sunset. Chazal did not fix the fast on the 10th (despite the fact that the majority of the conflagration took place on it) because the beginning of the punishment is the moment that hurts most and is the most painful. R. Ovin, in the Yerushalmi, fasted on the 9th and on the 10th. R. Levi on the other hand, would fast on the 9th and on the eve of the 10th through to the morning, because he did not have the strength to fast through the day of the 10th. We are frail and therefore, we only fast on the 9th. However, we do refrain from eating meat and drinking wine on the night of the 10th until midday of the 10th, unless it is for a 'Se'udas Mitzvah'. And the same applies to the other Mitzvos of the nine days - reciting 'She'he'chiyonu', washing, having a haircut (and shaving) and washing clothes. Someone who is strict in all these issues and refrains during the entire 10th Av is considered praiseworthy. However, when the 10th Av falls on Friday, then one may take a bath, have a haircut (and shave) and wash clothes already on the morning in honour of Shabbos. (From the MB it is not clear whether this concession does not already apply from the night of the 10th.) Other prohibitions pertaining to the nine days (i.e. meat and wine, and music) remain in force until midday.


A Woman After Childbirth

33. A woman, seven days after childbirth, even though she fasted, may nevertheless have meat and wine immediately after the fast.


The Era of the Churban

(Bayis Rishon)


The last straw that clinched Hashem's decision to destroy the Beis ha'Mikdosh was King Menashe placing an idol in the Heichal of the Beis ha'Mikdosh. The image had four faces so that from whichever direction one approached it, one would immediately be able to prostrate oneself before it. This, Menashe presumably did before his teshuvah in 3250, eighty-eight years before the Churban.



The era of the Churban may be said to have begun with the death of Yoshiyoh in 3316. Yeho'ochoz, his second son, is chosen to succeed him. He is chosen to rule because he is more worthy than his older brother, Yehoyokim, and that is why he has to be annointed (whereas the natural heir to the throne does not). He only reigns for three months, until he is captured by Par'oh the lame and brought to Egypt.

Yeho'ochoz is succeeded by his older brother Yehoyokim (also known as Elyokim).



Nevuchadnetzar, King of Bovel, captures Yerusholayim and exiles Yehoyokim to Bovel together with Doniel, Chananyoh, Mishoel and Azaryoh. He returns Yehoyokim to Yerusholayim however, on the understanding that he will be subservient to him. For three years Yehoyokim remains loyal to Nevuchadnetzar, before he rebels.

When Boruch ben Neriyah, Yirmiyoh's disciple, writes out the Book of Eichoh on Yirmiyoh's instructions, and shows it to the King, he promptly tosses it into the fire.



Yehoyokim rebels against Nevuchadnetzar.


Nevuchadnetzar marches against Yerusholayim and demands that Yehoyokim give himself up. When he refuses, his fellow Jews are forced to bind him in chains and deliver him to Nevuchadnetzar, who leads him into exile, but he dies on the way to Bovel. His captors leave his corpse where it falls, open to the heat of the sun by day and the cold by night.

His son Yehoyochin (also known as Yechonyoh) succeeds him. Like Yeho'ochoz, his uncle, he rules for only three months, before Nevuchadnetzar, on the advice of his people ('How much loyalty can you expect from the son of a rebel?') demands Yehoyochin's surrender. Yehoyochin accedes, but not before he has climbed onto the roof of the Beis ha'Mikdosh and thrown the keys of the Beis ha'Mikdosh into the air, returning them to their Master (because they are no longer worthy of acting as its custodians).

Yechoyochin is taken captive to Bovel, together with three thousand of the elite of Yehudah, including the Sanhedrin and seven thousand from Binyomin and the other tribes. (Others say that Nevuchadnetzar exiles seventeen thousand plus one thousand Torah scholars. Among the captives is Yehoyochin's uncle, Matanyoh ben Yoshiyoh (Yehoyokim's brother).

This is the fifth exile that Yisroel has undergone (three at the hand of Sancheriv and two at the hands of Nevuchadnetzar.)


Nevuchadnetzar places Matanyoh on the throne and changes his name to Tzidkiyoh (implying that G-d will punish him if he rebels against him). He places all the local kings under Tzidkiyoh's jurisdiction.



Yirmiyoh prophesies about the Churban Beis ha'Mikdosh.



Yechezkel has a vision of the Ma'aseh ha'Merkovoh (incorporating a prophecy of the Churban Beis ha'Mikdosh).



Yechezkel prophesies about the downfall of Yerusholayim. Nevuchadnetzar lays siege to Yerusholayim.


Yirmiyoh warns the people consistently that whoever remains in Yerusholayim will suffer a terrible fate and it is those who surrender to Nevuchadnetzar's besieging army who will be spared. He also issues a similar warning to Tzidkiyoh, making it clear that he can save Yerusholayim as well as himself, by surrendering. But Tzidkiyoh, who is sometimes described in Chazal as a Tzadik, although the Novi consistently refers to him as a rosho (because he failed to rebuke his generation), ignored the Novi's warnings.


When Nevuchadnetzar appointed Tzidkiyoh king, he made him swear, holding a Seifer Torah, that he would not rebel against him. Before Nevuchadnetzar had arrived in Bovel, however, he had already (annulled his oath and) begun the rebellion that would lead to the Churban. This was by the Divine will, because G-d's decision to destroy the Beis Hamikdosh at that stage was already irrevocable.

On an earlier occasion, he entered Nevuchadnetzar's presence as the King was eating a live hare. There too, he made him swear that he would never divulge what he saw to anybody. And there too, Tzidkiyoh had his oath annulled. He will later be made to pay for this dearly.



When Nevuchadnetzar hears that Egyptian troops are on their way to attack him, he raises the siege on Yerusholayim, and his army leaves. But G-d has other plans. As the Egyptians are crossing the Reed Sea, He orders the skulls and bones of human corpses to appear on the water. The Egyptians recall the splitting of the Reed Sea and the drowning of their ancestors, and return to Egypt. The siege of Yerusholayim resumes.

It is as the Babylonian troops are returning to the siege that they spot a deer. They give chase and the deer leads them to the opening of a tunnel in the area of Yericho (forty kilometers from Yerusholayim) just as Tzidkiyoh, together with his family, the Sanhedrin, and many troops, who are attempting to escape via the secret tunnel that leads all the way from the King's palace, emerge.

His troops flee, and he, his family and the Sanhedrin are led captive to Nevuchadnetzar who is stationed in Rivloh in the north. Afraid of G-d's wrath, that he anticipates will follow the impending destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdosh, he has placed his troops under the command of his general Nevuzeradan, whilst he remains in Rivloh.


Nevuchadnetzar, furious with Tzidkiyoh for having reneged on his oath, kills his children in front of him, before taking out his eyes and leading him captive to Bovel.

He also punishes the Sanhedrin, whom he blames for the annulment of Tzidkiyoh's vows, by tying them by their hair to horses' tails, and allowing the horses to run wild, dragging them along until they are all dead.


It is Nevuchadnetzar's custom never to set free a captive, and so it is with Tzidkiyoh and with Yehoyochin (who was taken into captivity eleven years earlier). Both remain in prison for the entire duration of Nevuchadnetzar's reign.

The Jews prevail upon Nevuchadnetzar's wife to intercede with her husband on behalf of Yehoyochin, to allow his wife to 'visit' him in jail and to spend the night with him. This she succeeds in doing, and the visit is arranged. However, as Yehoyochin's wife is being lowered into the narrow dungeon, she informs her husband that she has just seen blood and that she is forbidden to him. She asks to be withdrawn and another night is arranged.

It is remarkable, Chazal point out, that before going into exile, they did not adhere to the laws of family purity, yet, here in golus (and under such circumstances), they do! As a result, G-d revokes the decree that He issued through Yirmiyoh, that Yehoyochin will die childless. Not only that, but his wife becomes pregnant in a miraculous way, and gives birth to She'elti'el, father of Zerubovel, better known as Nechemyah, who will lead Yisroel out of golus Bovel.



Twenty-six years after the Churban, on the twenty-fifth of Ador, Nevuchadnetzar dies. E'vil Merodach, his son, ascends the throne on the twenty-sixth, he exhumes his father's body from the grave and drags it around the town to annul his decrees, and on the twenty-seventh he sets Yehoyochin free.

Tzidkiyohu, content in the knowledge that he has outlived his captor and tormentor Nevuchadnetzar, dies at this time.

E'vil Merodach takes Yehoyochin under his wing and provides for him until his dying day. He places him in charge of all the other vassal kings under his jurisdiction.


Malchus Beis Dovid has come to a temporary end. From now on, Dovid's descendants will be known as princes (Nesi'im). The first prince is Yehoyochin. He is succeeded by his son She'elti'el, who is in turn succeeded by his son, Zerubovel.


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