Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tisha BeAv Tales

Some stories for Tisha BeAv.. The Two brothers (As told by Rabbi Ari Kahn)

There were once two brothers, one married with children, the other single. They lived on a land that would become Yerushalayim. They lived side by side and shared a field with a fence running down the middle to separate the two brothers' parts. One night the married brother wakes up and thinks. It really is not fair that I have all the joy of having a wife and family as well as a fine crop from the field where as my brother only has the wealth from the grain we produce. So he got up in the middle of the night and picked up as many sacks of grain as he could carry and he silently climbed over the fence and deposited them in his brother's barn. Meanwhile, his brother woke up and started to think. It really is not fair that I have all this wealth from the grain that my brother and I both produce together but I only have myself to support where as he has a wife and children to support. So he got up in the middle of the night and picked up as many sacks of grain as he could carry and he silently climbed over the fence and deposited them in his brother's barn. In the morning, the brothers are shocked to find that they somehow have the same amount of sacks each. Hakodesh Baruch Hu says, "This is place where the Beis HaMikdash will be built". This story is not found in Midrash, Zohar or any ancient source. It is probably no more than 150 years old. There is however a counter story. There were once two brothers, one married with children, the other single. They lived on a land that would become Yerushalayim. They lived side by side and shared a field with a fence running down the middle to separate the two brother's parts. One night the married brother wakes up and thinks. It really is not fair that I have a wife and children to support and my brother only has himself to look after. Is it fair that we should split 50/50? Surely I deserve a lot larger share. So he got up and climbed over the fence in order to take from his brother as many sacks of grain as he could carry and bring them to his barn. Meanwhile, his brother wakes up and thinks to himself. You know all I have in life is my wealth from the grain where as my brother has joy from his family. It really is not fair that she should split the wealth 50/50 so he gets up and climbs over the fence and takes from his brother's barn as many sacks of grain as he can carry. In the morning the brothers are surprised to find that they both have the same amount of grain in their barns as they did yesterday. Hakodesh Baruch Hu says "This is the place where the Knesset will be built". Chaza"l say that the second Beis HaMikdash was built on chesed and was destroyed by sinas chinum.

The Navi's son and his "beshert"

(My own story) Once there was a Navi who had a grown up son of marriageable age. The Navi came to his son one day, very excited and said that he had the most wonderful news. Hashem had sent him a nevuah and had told him who and where his son's "beshert" is; his perfect soul mate, the one who he was destined to build a Beis Yisrael with. Not only that but she already knew of him and was eagerly waiting for him. The Navi told his son how he had seen one neshama being formed with all the ingredients one needed for a fulfilling life of Torah, Mitzvos and Simcha and how Hashem had split this neshama down the middle and placed one half in a girl's body and the other in his son's body and now, Hashem had revealed to him who this girl was. What person would not want to be told a nevuah like this? To know for certain that this person was his "beshert". As halacha dictates, they should meet at least once before the Chasuna. The son went to see her. Despite Hashem telling him that this girl was his "kenegdo", perfect for him and him for her in every way, he did not go to get to know her, to glimpse the joy he would have with her for the rest of his life. Instead he went to see if Hashem was correct in His assessment of this girl. Was she really as beautiful, resourceful and loyal as He had promised she would be? He would go and find out. Well, she certainly was nothing like what he had expected. He looked at her with a very critical eye and saw what he thought were many failings in her. He went back home disappointed and depressed. After telling his father about his trip, the son went up to his room and cried himself to sleep. Mesechet Taanit tells us that the day that the Meraglim (the spies) returned and spoke their lashon hara against Eretz Yisrael and the people cried, that was the 9th Av. Eretz Yisrael is the land that Hakodesh Baruch Hu chose for us to be the perfect land for us to perform His mitzvos. Eretz Yisrael is our "beshert". The meraglim doubted Hashem and we are still paying the price today.

Jerusalem of Gold

A few years ago, one Shabbos during the Nine Days, someone stood up in shul and proceeded to lecture the community on his thoughts on Tisha BeAv. "If you are a Zionist", he told us, "then it made no sense to continue mourning for Yerushalayim anymore. Anyone who just looks at the beautiful rebuilt Yerushalayim, its towers, bridges and tunnels would see this", he said. While I was sitting there I was trying to think of mashal (a parable) that could perhaps get him to realise how foolish his words were. This is it: A husband and wife had a terrible fight. In a fit of anger the wife threw her wedding ring out of the kitchen window and it landed somewhere amongst the bushes in the front garden. Her husband, upon seeing this, stormed out of the house and disappeared down the road. After sometime the wife calms down and goes out into the front garden to look for her ring. She searches and searches but cannot find it. Eventually she sits down on the grass and begins to cry bitter tears. Her husband returns and holds out his hand to her. She takes it and gets up and together they begin looking for the ring. Eventually they find it. They take the ring inside and polish it until the gold shines like the sun. Then the wife realises that the diamond in the centre of the ring is missing. They both sit there in the kitchen and cry. How are they to find that little diamond in the garden? Yerushalayim today is like that polished gold ring. However the Beis HaMikdash, the diamond in the centre is still lost. We must understand that we still have great cause to cry and mourn until Yamos HaMashiach, may it come very soon.

The Bowl of Soup

(Not my own story) Midrash Tanchuma tells us that fruits and vegetables have only 10% of the taste they once had before the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed. We do not even remember what a real apple or real cucumber tastes like and we don't even realize what we are missing. I once heard a story of a poor family who were waiting to go to a fancy simcha. The father had instructed everyone to starve themselves the whole day in order to enjoy the delicious food at the simcha. He described to them how he had once been to a simcha many years ago and that his children had no idea what delights awaited them. His children who ate only onions and cabbage soup really did have no idea. They waited and waited and became more and more impatient and hungry as the day wore on. They reached a point when they could no longer wait anymore and so they boiled themselves some cabbage and Onion soup to eat. They didn't think that this would ruin their appetite and would just be something to tie them over until the seuda that evening. They were so blind with hunger however that they gulped the soup down, burning their palettes and lips. They went to the Seuda and saw everyone around them enjoying the wonderful food. However, no matter what they put in their mouths, sweet or savoury, fried or roasted, they could taste nothing. The father began to cry, knowing what he had lost out on. His children stared at their father. "What was he so upset about?" they asked themselves.

1 comment:

Bouncer said...

But I like onions and cabbage. Yummy!