Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg zt”l: The Need for Tisha B’Av Part Eight
Shiva Asar Betamuz must make us aware. It’s got to remind us of all these things. To shake us out of a complacency that can drown us. To shake us out of an acceptance that can be the death of the spirit, of the soul and of the body itself, out of which comes all the terrible tragedies of Klal Yisroel.
By using this time and by directing our machshavot properly, not just as an act of fasting to remember a bygone tragedy, but as an act of affirmation, of a recognition that that tragedy is here and now and that the suffering is suffering that we have to undergo, that what it’s about. And that loss is a loss that has made our lives unfit to be full, that has made it impossible for us to be all that we should. And that constantly chips and hurts us daily in all that we undertake and try to be and to do. To understand and realize this actuality, this fact of existence, that’s what this season is all about. That’s what the Chachomim gave us.
When they gave us these dinim and halachos, they didn’t make it just not to forget. They made it so we can live properly by being aware of what it is we’re missing, of what it is we have to reach out to, of what it is we have to look forward to.
The Rambam poskins that one who is not aware of Mashiach and does not await him has no share in the Torah of the Jew. And about this that the Rambam poskins, remember not only is it necessary that we be aware that Mashiach will come, but he says more, he says it is necessary that we await him, that we have to be Mechake Lo. What does Mechake Lo mean?
Mechake Lo means that we have a sense that we miss him, that we need him. That’s what Mechake means. I await him because I’m not complete. The Rambam says, in other words, that unless I’m aware of this lack, unless I’m aware that this is not the way to live, that this is the sickness into which we have been thrown because of Chatanu. If we don’t understand that, we can’t be Jews. It is necessary in order to be Jews that we understand and be aware of the terrible lack that is involved in our living now without Mashiach.
And therefore the season is not a Mitzvah, it is that which enables us to preserve ourselves as a Jewish people.
Do you hear how deep it goes? Without Shiva Asar Betamuz and a three weeks and a Tisha B’Av, we cannot remain Jews. It is the hook on which our whole existence rests. It is the awareness that the season gives us that we cannot really live without Mashiach, that we need him, that we must have him and therefore await him.
Without that, the halacha says, we cannot be Jews. This preserves the whole body of Jewry. Klal Yisroel exists because of this season, because of this period. It gave existence to Klal Yisroel, so let it not be Kal Beyadecha Baynecha.
We have to recognize the full significance of the period that we’re going into and realize that the deeper that we understand it, the more vitality, the more viability we give the whole Am Yisroel. It is with this that our Chachamim in their incredible wisdom made possible the continued existence of AmYisroel.”