Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tisha BeAv at Moshav Matityahu

Apologies for not having blogged for a while.

For many years we have spent Tisha BeAv at Moshav Matityahu in order to hear Rav Zev Leff speak.

He is truly inspiring and lifts the heart and spirit. I once asked my Rav a Sheila in all seriousness whether it is mutar to be so inspired and "entertained" on Tisha BeAv? My Rav replied that the purpose of Tisha BeAv was to prepare you for chodesh Elul, the month of Teshuva. If Rav Zev Leff manages to convey to us what we are missing from not living in a world with the Beis HaMikdash and inspire us to be better Jews, then this is the perfect preparation for chodesh Elul.

For me, one of the many reasons for going to the moshav is that I know that my Rav will be there in the audience. I walk into the shul. It looks empty devoid of benches. I place my stall next to my Rav. One is not allowed to greet anyone on Tisha BeAv so I lean over to him and whisper some comment about the weather. I hope he understands that I'd really like to give him a hug and wish him Shalom Aleichem but am forbidden by halacha. Standing next to my Rav, my tephila is lifted 10X.

The shul's Aron Kodesh is on the extreme left. This is because the interior has been extended out to the right twice already in order to accommodate an ever growing community. (Baruch Hashem!) The lights are dimmed. As you look around you see many different kinds of Jew of all ages, all waiting to hear the Rav speak. Misnagdim, Chassidim, Kipa Seruga, American Carlibachniks...they are all there. There are many Yeshiva bochrim who come from various English speaking yeshivos to hear Rav Zev Leff speak. Most of them sit directly on the floor and make tall towers with their hats; sometimes 20 hats, one on top of the other. This only adds to the already surreal atmosphere.

Rav Zev Leff spoke from 8:00am to 1:30pm with the occasional break for a kina. He changes the topic every year but links what he has to say to a number of kinos. This year he spoke about all the mitzvos that will bring the Geula Sheliema nearer. He had his audience in laughter one moment and in tears the next.

It's true that in order to get to the moshav in time for shacharis at 7:30am we need to leave home at 6:00am but it's worth it. The shul is very well air conditioned and when Rav Zev Leff speaks, time flies and before you know it, the tzom is almost over.

Until Moshiach comes, for me, it’s the perfect way to spend Tisha BeAv in Eretz Yisrael.

This year, they set up a live stream so anyone can watch wherever you are via the Internet. However, there is nothing like being there.

The Beis Halevi, R' Chaim Brisker, and the Brisker Rov

Amongst the many stories Rav Zev Leff told, there is one that sticks in the mind. It is the one where the Chofez Chaim tells the story of how Rav Soloveitchik came to Brisk. Intially he did not wish to go. However the community in Brisk nagged and nagged him. They came to him for the nth time and told him how 25,000 Frum Yidden were desperately waiting for him. Rav Soloveitchik eventually gave in. He told the delegation that if so many Yidden were waiting for him, how could he be so cruel and keep them waiting? So he came to Brisk. The Chafetz Chaim remarks that surely the Moshiach is an even greater Tzaddik than the Brisker Rav so how could he keep us all, millions of Jews, waiting for him? The answer he said was that we aren't really waiting for him with all our heart and sole! Rav Zev Leff said that if we really wanted to see what it was like to wait in anguish for someone, one only needs to look at the faces of Gilad Shalit's parents!

By the way. Some, including I, have tried in the past going to the Kosel afterwards to davan mincha. Being on a tzom (a fast for 24 hours with no food or water) I really would not recommend this. It’s a hard walk there and back in blistering heat. Even the strongest is likely to get sick. I'll wait until either we have a Tisha BeAv that's cool or when the day turns into a Moed when we'll be drinking wine at the Kosel, BeYameinu!

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