Lamentations: Third Kinah Fourth Stanza
“He proclaimed this date as a fixed time.” This phrase is based on Eichah 1:15: “The Lord has trampled all my heroes in my midst; He proclaimed a set time against me to crush my young men.” God determined
that there would be a set time for all the worst suffering; Tisha B’Av.
Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 552: Since Tisha B’Av is referred to as a Moed, set time, which also means festival, halachically as on a festival, no Tachanun is recited today.
The verse in Zechariah 8:19 says “Thus said the Lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness, happy festivals for the House of Judah; but you must love honesty and integrity.” This refers to all the fasts we have throughout the year over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. This is why we can treat Tisha B’Av as a festival. The Maharal in Netzach Yisrael, chapter 55 asks: “Why will they become occasions for joy and gladness? Wouldn’t it be enough for them to cease being fasts?
In order to answer this we must first see what Rabbeinu Yonah in the Shaarei Teshuvah, Second Gate Paragraph 5 says “It is for him who trusts in God to hope, in the gloom of his anguish, that the darkness be the cause of light, as it is written, ‘Rejoice not against me, my enemy; though I am fallen I shall arise; though I sit in darkness, God is a light for me.’ (Micha 7:8) And our Sages of blessed memory have said, ‘If I had not fallen, I would not have risen; If I had not sat in darkness, it would not have been light unto me.’ (Midrash Tehillim, Psalm 22)
Rabbeinu Yonah is saying that the darkness is the cause of the ensuing light. We must learn to see our suffering as the source of the good that will follow. This is found also in the Yalkut Shimoni, Hosea 6 “For he tore it and will heal it.” This can be compared to one who had a wound and his doctor opened it. Once the patient saw that his wound wasn’t healing he went to other doctors but couldn’t find a cure. One said to him, “Go to the doctor who opened the wound and he will heal it for you.” So too, says the prophet, you, the Jews, are looking for consolation in distant places. All you must do is repent and God Who punished you will heal you.
The Maharal in Netzach Yisrael chapter 61 explains that all the wounds inflicted by God are only to heal the ones who are ill. When God hits the Jews, so to speak, He is actually doing what is necessary to heal them. The time will come when we will have enough clarity to understand why all the suffering over the generations was necessary. We will see that it actually helped us. It was the fall that allowed us to rise. It was the darkness that helped us eventually receive God’s light.
Ultimately, when we have this clarity, all the suffering of all the Tisha B’Avs will show itself to our benefit. At that time, not only will it cease to be a fast, it will be a day of gladness and rejoicing. When we are able to call Tisha B’Av a festival, and not say Tachanun, we are declaring our belief in the principle as laid out by Rabbeinu Yonah; “We believe that all this suffering itself is good and the root for all the good that will follow.”
Eichah Rabbah 1:44: “We find that the death of youths is considered as grievous as the destruction of the Temple; for it is written, ‘The Lord has trodden in the winepress the virgin daughter of Judah,’ (winepress is understood by the Midrash, Eichah Rabbah, Proems 32, as the Temple) and in the same way, ‘He has called a set time against me to crush my young men.’(Since both are related in the same verse, they are equal tragedies.) Many of our youth are dying; they are leaving Judaism, they are experimenting with drugs and sex. They are steadily losing their connection to the community. If the Midrash teaches us that this is as grievous as the destruction of the Temple we must act as forcefully as we would to protect the Temple itself.