Tu B’Av 5772 Part Nine
Transcribed by: Transcription for Everyone:I don’t know how to say this powerfully enough. When we are told we’re no longer on this madreiga, we’re no longer on this level, we don’t merit this, we’re not as great as previous generations, we’re this — oy, we have fallen so low; oy, we are this; oy, we are that — instead of saying, wow, that you’re learning in this environment, that you’re willing to live as a Jew in this environment — that makes you into royalty. Instead of saying, yeah, sure you keep kosher, it’s so easy to keep kosher these days. Sure you keep Pesach, so you go to a hotel. Sure you do this, so easy — everything is easy these days compared to what it was 50 years ago. It’s much easier.
So if we say, Pesach is not the same. Let me tell you, Pesach’s not the same. I remember my mother used to make the potato starch by cooking the potatoes. I remember my mother kashering — I do, I remember my mother, aleha hashalom, kashering the liver. I remember grinding the meat for my grandmother with — I don’t remember what you call it. I remember those things. It’s not the same. Now you go to a kosher butcher, everything is done. We’re just not on the same madreiga as saying we’re not royalty. That’s Tisha b’Av.
A teacher who will ever speak down to a child instead of understanding that the child is the king’s child and you’re not going to ever speak down to the king’s child, ever. When you speak to the king’s child, no matter how rotten and obnoxious the king is, you’re going to be careful. That’s Tu b’Av.
Every time we bemoan how low we have fallen instead of understanding wow, for a Jew to want to not have actual intimate relations — so they’re not shomer negiya. But for a Jewish kid growing up in this environment to still want to keep certain halachos, that’s royalty. Do you understand?
That Hoshea ben Ela, the rasha, destructive — he understood. He understood that. He took the Tisha b’Av approach. I believe that this opinion in the Gemara holds that the minute a teacher speaks down to a child instead of speaking up to a child; the minute a parent speaks down to a child in the context of Yiddishkeit — how could you, you Eisvarff. This is the way a Jew behaves? That’s the Hoshea ben Ela approach. That’s Tisha b’Av.
The Tu b’Av approach is to see the royalty. Anytime someone comes to me, they’re totally non-observant, totally non-observant but they want to have a frum wedding. Wow. Well, you know, really, this is my opportunity to make them frum and to help them change and to help them this — I’m looking down. They’re going to be the victims of my mitzvah.
But the minute they come in you go, whoa, what a statement. Well, I’d like to know how to keep Shabbos or is there any way that I could come to shul and drive in my car that I’m not doing a sin?
When a group of my ba’alei batim in one of the cities where I was a rabbi said okay, we won’t drive, we’re going to buy a van and we’re going to hire a non-Jew to drive the van so we can come to shul on Shabbos. They had told other rabbis in this city about it — oh no, you’re not allowed to, you’re not allowed to. I went, I took out a bottle of whiskey and I made a lechaim. I said wow, you are G-d’s children. That’s Tu b’Av.
We live with this all the time. I remember at Rav Moshe’s levaya one Rosh Yeshiva turned to the Rosh Yeshiva sitting next to him and he goes you know, there will never be another Rav Moshe because we have air conditioning. Rav Moshe had to work so hard in order to learn so that’s how he became Rav Moshe. But now we have air conditioning, we have food — no one will ever become Rav Moshe.
That’s mamesh Hoshea ben Ela to say yeah, but to live as a Jew when you were Rav Moshe was a lot easier than to live as a Jew in New York City or in California. That’s a Shlomo Ha’melech and that’s a Tu b’Av.
Imagine Jewish people living with a sense of dignity because if I want to be able to daven, my mouth has to be a royal mouth and therefore I’ll be careful in the way I speak. In order to be able to learn Torah, my words of Torah, the way I look has to be royal and therefore I’m not going to use my eyes to look at something that is less than royal. In order to use my hands for a mitzvah, my hands have to be the hands of royalty. I’m not going to use my hands, G-d forbid, to do something that a king wouldn’t do or the prince or the princess wouldn’t do.
Imagine if we lived like that. Imagine you go into Rockland Kosher and everyone is walking with tremendous dignity and everyone is, oh, how are you? Please, you go first. Chas veshalom, how could I take, grab, reach over you, push you, this and this, like it is. Right?
Imagine that. That would be Tu b’Av. Imagine speaking to the cashier the way a king would speak to the cashier instead of speaking to the cashier down because they’re different — they’re not religious, they’re not Jewish, they’re a different race. Imagine if we spoke with dignity and someone said, you have such dignity. Thank you.
That would be a Tu b’Av approach and then we would have real access to davening, to Torah, and to mitzvos. That’s the next bit.
Audience Member: I have a feeling if I read that Gemara I wouldn’t see it the same.
Audience Member: The Rebbe’s reading it with dignity.
Audience Member: The possibility —
Rav Simcha Weinberg: As a princess.
Audience Member: Yeah, I hope I can see what you see.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: If you read it as a princess, you will. I know someone who read some Torah with some dignity instead of inadequacy and all of a sudden found answers to her questions. All it takes is approaching with dignity.
Audience Member: It’s the mindset.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: What do you think that tznius is? That’s why it’s called kevuda bas melech. There first has to be a sense of being a bas melech, a daughter of the king.
Audience Member: It’s really funny. We interviewed a Holocaust survivor and we asked her about tznius back then. According to her, there was no such thing as girls not dressing tznius. Every single girl knew she was a princess before G-d and that was it.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: That’s it. Do you think on the day that they were able to go into Auschwitz and the survivors were able to bury the dead — do you think they would have turned that day into a yontef?
So what happened at Beitar?
Audience Member: He must have been a good leader.
Audience Member: He was reintroducing dignity.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: When it says that the bodies didn’t decompose, they did an incredible thing, an incredible thing.
It was a terrible defeat, a terrible, crushing defeat. It was the Messiah and he failed. Rabbi Akiva said it was the Messiah. He was right, by the way, Rabbi Akiva. He was paskening a Halacha which is a whole different discussion. To say that Rabbi Akiva made a mistake is to not understand what Rabbi Akiva was saying in actually telling us how a real leader has to function.
To go around saying, the bodies didn’t rot. What message were they conveying? You did not lose your dignity. It’s not that you have dignity. But even after a terrible tragedy, you did not lose.
Imagine, what would a Tisha b’Av approach — response to 9/11 be? We need to do teshuva. The Beitar approach to 9/11 would be, you didn’t lose your dignity. How would you say you didn’t lose your dignity? You would begin by saying, in the midst of a terrible tragedy, the degree to which people helped each other was unbelievable. The acts of chesed were unbelievable. The United 93, the flight where they killed the hijackers even though the plane crashed, that was a Beitar approach.
When people were just talking — did you know that the water taxis around New York City took more people, evacuated more people, in a shorter amount of time than the big evacuation of Dunkirk during World War II. Did you know this? Almost three times as many people.
It was a massive thing, the degree of chesed. There was no rioting. There was no looting, nothing, because there was a sense of you did not lose your dignity.
I remember that I spoke at a memorial service — it doesn’t matter where — and a priest spoke before me. They wanted a priest, a minister, and a rabbi. So the priest spoke first about how G-d is sending us a message and we should weep and we should cry. The minister spoke about the same thing, G-d is telling us, the power of evil. By the time I got up to speak, everyone was just like you guys are now, sound asleep.
I spoke about that, for me, the big — I stood up and I went like this and I was just staring at my hand. Everyone’s waking up wondering why this lunatic is staring at his hand. I said, you know, for some people the symbol of 9/11, the main picture, is that guy jumping out the window. Remember those pictures? But for me the most powerful sign of 9/11 was somebody reaching into the rubble to pull up someone who was stuck — like that. What I spoke about was how we saw our dignity and our glory and so on and so forth on those days. My speech was the most well-received.
That’s the Beitar approach. When a kid has failed at something in school — somebody will say to the kid don’t worry, you’ll get better, you’ll turn it around. Right? But then you’re acknowledging the fall. The Beitar approach is reminding us that there are some times that you cannot even afford to acknowledge the fall if the person is going to lose any dignity in it.
Therefore, if the child has suffered a loss of dignity, the response has to be to show the child that there is no loss of dignity. So to speak down to the child condescendingly — don’t worry, mommy loves you — you know, the way we speak down to our kids as if they’re idiots. That’s not the Beitar approach.
There are some times when you need the Beitar approach which is, the whole emphasis has to be, to get through to them that they have not suffered any loss of dignity.
Audience Member: That’s not like lying?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: No, not at all. Being crushed by the Roman Empire is not a loss of dignity. It’s not. A family that goes through a terrible financial crisis in this economy, the main thing to do is to get the message across; you have not lost your dignity. Would you go into the hospital and visit someone who was ill and say, don’t worry if you die, I won’t allow your children to be treated as nebuchs. Everyone will, but I won’t, don’t worry — and your almana, im yirtze Hashem.
You think I’m joking? My mother, aleha hashalom, used to — because she ran this huge bikur cholim — used to keep a list of all the incredible things people would say to people who were sick.
My nephew made a YouTube about it. It is hilarious. You know, if you had been in shul, you would have heard that the Rav spoke that whenever someone is sick, it means that they did a terrible — I’m not chas veshalom saying you did an aveira but maybe you should think of doing teshuva. You know you really don’t look like you can eat this ice cream. I’ll eat it for you so it doesn’t — just incredible things. It’s how not to make a bikur cholim visit. His name is Shmop — Sholom Meir Pesach.
People visit the sick and they treat them without dignity. There’s very little dignity when you’re lying there in a hospital bed for a long time with a million tubes and those hospital gowns and so on and so forth. There’s not much dignity.
Or when you go in for surgery — I’ve got to tell you, the difference between going into surgery in Germany or Argentina and going into surgery in the United States is astounding. In Germany, they put you into this beautiful room with couches and lights and music and you’re fully dressed and whatever it is and they slowly get you to sleep. You never see the surgical suite. You’re not there. You go to sleep and when you wake up, you wake up in a nicer place and at no time are you aware of the fact that you’re just lying there.
But in America, you lie down on the table. They put you like this, they tie your hands, they think you’re Yoshka, right. You have no dignity at all. If it’s back surgery it’s even worse, let me tell you. Boy, it’s horrible. They take away any sense of dignity at all.
Audience Member: You’re supposed to walk in the robe first before you get into the bed.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Some people are not able to walk.
Audience Member: Well for me, I had to walk.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: But do you understand? We go and even in a shiva call, nebuch. To go in and pay a shiva call as a nebuch is an anti-Beitar approach. There are so many times this comes through — not just for klal Yisrael. When we look at ourselves we no longer have gedolim and Rav Elyashiv ZT”L, we don’t have him — that’s it, we’re gone. It’s over. We don’t have real gedolim. We’re not who we once were is the anti-Beitar approach.
Tu b’Av is, could very well be, but anyone who comes to Monday night learning knows that there are even better things happening than having gedolim because we have tremendous dignity. Nothing is as egocentric as seeing everything as negative and I’m the one who’s going to save the world.
Instead of if I look at you with dignity, it changes you and it changes me.
Audience Member: But if you take a kid and only treat him with dignity, never show him the faults of what he’s done —
Rav Simcha Weinberg: What are you talking about? Who says not to show faults? You can show faults without taking away dignity. It’s a huge difference.
I love chazal, they’re just so smart.
Okay, can I ask you a question? Do you have everything ready that you need for Rosh Hashanah? Are you ready?
Audience Members: No.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: No? Okay. The Gemara says you’re wrong. It’s Tu b’Av. Whatever you need is done. All the preparation is over. You want to get into Elul — don’t start I need to prepare and I need to blah, blah, blah. The day of collection is over. That’s it. If you drag out the preparation, it’s going to be rotten.
Everyone is preparing, preparing, preparing, preparing, preparing, preparing until five minutes before. It’s the last shacharis. It’s the last mincha. It’s the last maariv before Rosh Hashanah. The last Shabbos of the year, the last havdala of the year, the last this of the year. Take your chance and this and that and everyone’s preparing to the last minute.
The Gemara says, when do you stop preparing? Tu b’Av. That’s it. The wood is there. Your whole avoda is ready. Now focus on the avoda instead of preparing. It’s an incredible thing because no one will ever feel adequately prepared. So chazal say, you know what, 15th of Av it’s over.
Audience Member: It’s over and now?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Now get to work. Not preparing. Get to work. Seriously. My mother, aleha hashalom, the first challah that she would bake for Rosh Hashanah, she would bake on Tu b’Av. Everything was ready. The meat for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur was bought by Tu b’Av. Everything that she would need — the menu was decided, everything prepared. That’s it. Now we’re ready for Rosh Hashanah. Okay, and now we were focused on work. That’s it. Now I’m different, now I’m ready to do the avoda.
But people go around — great, come on. You can’t look at a piece of wood and examine it. You put it under a microscope — an electron microscope. You find after — well, now everything has bugs. But in those days it didn’t.
I don’t want you checking anymore. The 15th of Av, it’s over. Because otherwise when are you ever going to feel adequately prepared to bring the korban in the Beis Ha’mikdash? When are you ever going to feel like the Beis Ha’mikdash has everything it needs? It’s over. It’s done with. Stop the preparation. Get to work.
Audience Member: Isn’t preparation doing work?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: No. Real preparation? Yes. But the preparation of — if you have the basics, and most people think that preparation is getting rid of your aveiros, doing teshuva on all the bad things you did. For some reason, no one ever finishes. We all have so many aveiros. It’s incredible. Maybe not you guys, but someone like me has so many aveiros that by the time Rosh Hashanah comes I’ve been preparing for so long.
I always experienced Elul as this downer in yeshiva and hearing all these shmoozim if you ever did this aveira — great, what’s the point? I might as well not be frum. It’s incredible. I didn’t realize I was the world’s biggest rasha until every year in Elul. It was the most depressing time listening to all those shmoozim until I realized that I had made up my mind not to listen to anybody at a very young age anyway.
Do you understand? Shouldn’t the whole year — you should be going out collecting — you find a beautiful piece of wood, you prepare for the mizbeach? No. The basic stuff that you need have ready. This is not a time for you to get rid of your aveiros. That’s not what Elul is.
It has to end with the beginning of nechama. The whole process of nechama is the negative stuff has ended. What people associate with the preparation is usually teshuva. They teach teshuva as the very Christian concept of teshuva — you have to get rid of your sins, you have to feel terrible, oy, I’m a sinner, oy, I’m a this, oy, I’m a that — which is not really what Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are about. That has to end.
Audience Member: So the negative perspective needs to change?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Yes.
Audience Member: At what point do you start teaching your kids dignity — I mean, nechama.
Audience Member: Isn’t that what bris does — starts teaching the dignity of being a Jew?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Yes, that is what it is supposed to be at bris. The Gemara says right away.
Audience Member: But how? At this age, how do you start approaching or trying to get nechama? How do you move forward?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Using any one of the different approaches we’ve spoken about tonight but then to understand that if the whole effort is going to be to get rid of the past —
Audience Member: It’s not getting rid of it. It’s accepting the past and moving past the past.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: So that was the approach of the maisei midbar, that people were dying in the desert. All the different pieces fit together and you have to choose which one is most effective for you.
Audience Member: You said it on Tisha b’Av.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: I did?
Audience Member: You said that the way to create dignity was when Hashem put Chava on his lap and was braiding her hair.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: That’s true. Yes.
Audience Member: I have two questions. I’m not very good with grammar. The Gemara, however, seems to imply that there never was the yom tov. Why does it seem to be talking about this in the past tense? That would be my first question.
Then my second question would be, you seem to imply that the Gemara is making this connection with Yom Kippur. Grammatically, it doesn’t seem like it is.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Why?
Audience Member: Because it would say it differently.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: How would it say it differently?
Audience Member: It would say ke’chamisha asar b’Av ve’Yom Kippur. Why does it say ve’che’Yom Kippur?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Because Yom Kippur is where they learned the principles to make a Tu b’Av. Yom Kippur comes from G-d and Tu b’Av comes from us. The idea — your first question — both excellent questions but I like the first one better. I find it more profound, if I may say.
There are times — let’s say a person has a great davening. The next time they daven they go, whoa, I hope it’s as good as it was. Or a person had a fabulous Yom Kippur and the person says, I hope this Yom Kippur will be as good as last year. It’s not going to be a good Yom Kippur.
The way you approach a Yom Kippur and the way you approach Tu b’Av is to say there never was a Yom Kippur the way this one will be. There never was a Tu b’Av the way this one will be. It’s an incredible statement by chazal.
Audience Member: Can you apply that to Shabbos too?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Absolutely. Absolutely, but the difference is this is what we did with it. The dancing girls — do you realize what a statement it is for the Jewish people? Can you imagine this in our world that the Jewish people said this is the way to celebrate Yom Kippur? It’s never to say, I want to recapture what once was. The best time in my life was blah, blah, blah.
How many guys have I heard from — well, you know when I was in yeshiva I used to learn 36 hours a day and I wouldn’t go to the bathroom and I wouldn’t eat and I wouldn’t sleep. I was this incredible masmid and everyone thought I was going to be the gadol hador. I can’t tell you how many future almost gedolei hador I have met in my life — all the guys. I remember them when they were teenagers. It’s not exactly the way I remember them but okay, memories can be corrupted.
But the minute somebody says oh, the way I used to know Gemara — well, good for you. Every time I open a Gemara — I can open up a Gemara and I remember learning it. It happens once in a while that I can open up the Gemara and say wow, I remember I once learned this Gemara well.
Am I going to say, well, I hope I learn it as well this time? No way. I open up a Gemara and I say, I never ever learned this Gemara the way I’m going to learn it this time. That’s lo hayu yamim tovim.
Audience Member: Thank you.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: It’s always looking forward. It’s looking forward to living with the most incredible aspirations and expectations.
This is when your Rosh Hashanah and your Yom Kippur begin and this is how teshuva begins. It’s to understand wow, whatever’s going to be happening over this Elul and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and Sukkos is going to be beyond anything I ever had before. Not just to say it but to live it and to believe it.
(End Recording – Part 2)
(Start Recording – Part 3, Closing Discussion)
Audience Member: It seemed that Rebbe was suggesting something akin to the law of attraction, that instead of focusing on the negatives and drawing them to us — like in Shir Hashirim, ki hinei hastav avar.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: That’s why I mentioned Shir Hashirim.
Audience Member: How do we reconcile that with bechol dor vador omdim aleinu lechalotainu?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Well first of all, that wasn’t chazal.
Audience Member: Who said that?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Yeah. That’s not part of the (inaudible). Second of all, the emphasis is on the — the tikkun of bechol dor vador is bechol dor vador chayav adam liros es atzmo. It’s a tikkun.
Audience Member: K’eilu hu yotze mi’mitzrayim? Well we do, in our own way. It also seemed to imply that until such time that we’re really 100 percent ready to go back to a Beit Ha’mikdash way of living, that it’s better to follow the Yerovam ben Nevat approach and not to rebuild the Beis Ha’mikdash.
Rav Simcha Weinberg: No, chas veshalom, you can’t. It’s too dangerous. He became machati es harabim. He’s the biggest rasha in Tanach.
Audience Member: Not having the Beit Ha’mikdash right now — it almost sounded like —
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Yeah. Without a Beis Ha’mikdash then it would be Yerovam ben Nevat.
Audience Member: It’s inspiring. It’s a drive. It spurs at least a portion of the am to aim for, whereas if the road was clear —
Rav Simcha Weinberg: If you’ve experienced for one minute and you’re able to dan Yerovam ben Nevat lekaf zechus then you’re beginning to understand Yerovam ben Nevat. Remember chazal go as much out of their way to describe how he’s a gadol hador and say good to saying he lost his olam haba.
Audience Member: I mean, Rebbe‘s explanation was gevaldik. There’s a tape of Rebbe‘s father, the Rosh Yeshiva ZT”L, proving that it was not an aveira — that the golden calf that Yerovam ben Nevat built was not an aveira.
What is the connection between Tu b’Shevat and Tu b’Av?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Did you have a shiur about that here?
Audience Member: Rav Shlomo described that Elul is not teshuva on what you did wrong but on what you did good and not more of, which is in line with what Rebbe was talking about.
I missed what is the makor. Is it in the Gemara that we learned tonight? The support, what’s the — somebody says, this is a great idea, but what’s the foundation? What are the words of chazal?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Those are the words of — about what, Yerovam ben Nevat?
Audience Member: No, Tu b’Av — drop it, you’re already —
Rav Simcha Weinberg: But you can’t, it’s a mishna. What (inaudible) is to find a mishna and Tanya.
Audience Member: It’s done. So Elul is taking the approach of okay, what am I going to do more good of?
Rav Simcha Weinberg: Getting a little more dignity and a higher madreiga.
Audience Member: The whole — just do away with the negative thinking altogether.