Sadly, again this year, Mashiach did not come in time for us to celebrate Tish’ah B’Av as it should be: a joyful holiday. Instead, we had to sit on the floor; but the community is blessed with the incredible dedication and work of Chazaq, Beth Gavriel, and TorahAnytime, so the day was not just a day to get through, but, as Chazaq put it, a day to grow through. Chazaq featured a “Tish’ah B’Av Marathon” with speakers from 10:30 a.m. until 6:45 p.m. at Beth Gavriel, and TorahAnytime live-streamed a record 16 live events that were going on all around the world with locations in Queens, Brooklyn, Monsey, Israel, England, and more – so that the day was turned into a very meaningful day of Torah and growth.
At Beth Gavriel, the audience first viewed a video by Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, a well-known speaker, who posed the following question: If the Torah says that Hashem created grass and green vegetation on the third day, then why does it say that after the world was completed, the grass and vegetation had not sprouted yet? The answer that was given was that there was no man to work the ground. Rabbi Wallerstein explained Rashi’s answer that if there were no human beings, then there was no one who would appreciate the rain. “When we appreciate what Hashem gives us, then we pray and the rain will come. Hashem brought rain so we could pray and show hakaras ha’tov.”
Rabbi Wallestein taught that a y’sod of the Creation and of being a Jew is that chesed builds the world. He shared that chesed doesn’t build. A lot of kind acts don’t build anything. The Maharal of Prague taught that if a starving person comes to you and asks you for food, and you know that if you give it to him, he won’t appreciate it, then it is forbidden to give it to him. Hashem wants a relationship with human beings. Hashem is saying, “I am giving you something.” One giving and another taking is not a relationship. A relationship is when the receiver says thank you. “How does G-d, who is such a high being, have a relationship with such a low being?” Hashem said, “I am the giver and you are the taker, but you have to say thank you. If you don’t pray and say thank you, then there is no connection. “If you give someone something, and he doesn’t appreciate it, then he is disconnecting from you.”
The Zohar teaches that Hashem made everything grow until the surface of the Earth. When the human being woke up from being created, the world looked like a desert. There was no connection between Hashem and the human being. When the human could pray and say thank you, then the grass was ready to sprout. “Tomatoes, green grass, all the beauty in the world is just there for us to connect to Hashem.”
Rabbi Wallerstein posed the question of how could the people who had the Beis HaMikdash have sinned? He explained that people became used to it. They didn’t appreciate it. “Through appreciation, we have a connection to Hashem. If there is no appreciation, then there is no connection.”
He then spoke about the mitzvah of honoring parents. “Your parents bring you into the world. You are here because of your parents.” He taught that if a child doesn’t show proper honor to his parents, then he will be disconnected from Hashem. “If he doesn’t appreciate what he sees, how can he be connected to Hashem?” He continued, “When you are disconnected, then you are lower than an animal.”
The Maharal explained that chesed is not about love or kindness. That is a secular idea. The secular idea is that if a horse breaks its leg, you shoot it, or it’s a kindness to a fetus to abort it. A redefinition of marriage is the secular idea of kindness. “G-d gave you life and He created you. The Torah defines how we should behave and what constitutes chesed. He put you in the world. The Beis HaMikdash gave us a connection to Hashem. We got used to it and we forgot to say thank you. When this happened, we became disconnected, and then we started to sin.”
He taught that basic hakaras ha’tov means appreciation of parents. He noted how some therapists will blame parents for everything. The Maharal taught that we are not allowed to give to children who don’t appreciate anything. It is forbidden to give to them because you are teaching them to disconnect.
The only way to build this world is through chesed.” G-d wants our connection, and the only way to connect to Hashem is through appreciation.” He reiterated, “If I can’t give G-d anything, then it’s not a relationship. Through appreciation, a person will daven, and t’filah is connection.” If we become connected and show appreciation, then Hashem will bring back the Beis HaMikdash.
Committing sins shows we don’t appreciate what Hashem does, and one sin leads to another. “If I don’t have appreciation, this leads to aveiros, and in the end I will do them all.
There is a breakdown in hakaras ha’tov in this generation. Everybody owes us everything. There is disconnection. To become more connected, we have to work on the mitzvah of kibud av va’eim and honoring one another.
He pointed out that Adam denied the good when he told Hashem that “the woman you gave me gave it (the fruit) to me.” This showed a lack of appreciation, and this brought death to the world. “Death is disconnection.” Adam’s lack of appreciation brought death to the world.
Therapists never say, “Let’s talk about the good things your parents did for you.” What about the good stuff? It is the opposite of Torah values to focus on the negative. He shared that he feels bad for G-d. “He gave us the Catskills, America, freedom of religion. What are we doing with it?”
He taught, “G-d answers every person. If we don’t show appreciation, He’ll put all the green and trees back under the earth.” Rabbi Wallerstein imparted that the only way to bring Mashiach is to show appreciation – to recognize the good, and that is how we will rebuild the Beis HaMikdash.
The next speaker, Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Founder and Director of Emet Outreach, shared a shiur focused on simchah. He explained that when a person mourns the loss of someone, he is mourning the disconnection he has with that soul, according to Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus.
When we mourn the Beis HaMikdash, we mourn the connection to holiness that is missing inside of us and outside of us. “The purpose of the Beis HaMikdash was that Hashem would dwell inside of us, and without it we are disconnected.” A zonah, which is the description of klal Yisrael in Megillas Eichah, is disconnected from herself and everyone. “All sin is disconnection.”
He noted that the sin of the spies was a consequence of disconnection. “If I really value your neshamah and that you are created in the image of G-d, then I don’t need to put you down or say lashon ha’ra about you, and I won’t feel jealous of you.”
He taught that “when we are disconnected to our own true value and to our Source, then we have sin.”
Mitzvos build connection. The declaration for the mitzvah of bringing the first fruits included a statement that I am happy with all the good Hashem gave me. The Torah lists tragedies that it says are a consequence if we don’t follow the Torah. One pasuk says that these bad things happen when we don’t serve Hashem with joy. “So, it is a mitzvah d’Oraisa to perform mitzvos with joy.” The reason we come to sin is because we didn’t serve Hashem with joy. Then we are not connected, and this leads to a desire to sin. “If we perform mitzvos with joy, then we will have the upper hand. The key to mitzvos is to do them with more joy.”
If we treat mitzvos like something to do by rote, then Hashem will leave us to the consequences of nature.
He noted that, this year, Shabbos pushed off Tish’ah B’Av because Shabbos teaches us the ultimate connection. It gives us a taste of the World to Come. Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus taught that Shabbos is the World to Come in this world. Rabbi Rutenberg taught: “If we tap into the power of Shabbos, then there is no mourning or death.” The Orchos Tzadikim taught that if you do mitzvos with joy, you have one thousand times the reward of performing them without joy. The Arizal taught that we should perform mitzvos with simchah. “We can add more simchah into our Shabbos, and this will cause more connection to Hashem, to ourselves, and to our families.”
There were many more incredible shiurim, which are a must to listen to on TorahAnytime.com:
Rabbi Yaakov Rachimi (Rebbe of the Chazaq Teens Divison), Rabbi Josh Sturm (Renewal Outreach Director), Rabbi BenTzion Shafier (Rav of The Shmuz), Rabbi Israel Itshakov (Beth Gavriel Youth Minyan), Rabbi Ilan Meirov (Founder and Director of Chazaq), Rabbi Yosef Palacci (inspirational speaker), Rabbi Daniel Glatstein (Rav of Kehillas Ahavas Yisrael), Rabbi Moshe Aharonoff (Yeshiva Tiferet Tzion), Rabbi Akiva Klein (inspirational speaker, based in Lakewood, New Jersey), Rabbi Yitzchak Oelbaum (assistant director of Chazaq and son of Rav Noach Isaac Oelbaum shlita), Rabbi Yitzchak Feldheim (inspirational speaker), Rabbi Paysach Krohn (well-known mohel, author, and speaker), Rabbi Mordechai Kraft (Director of Emet Outreach), Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser (well-known speaker), Harry Rothenberg, Esq. (inspirational speaker), and Rabbi Igal Haimoff (Rav of Congregation Ohel Simcha).
Rabbi Yissachar Dov Taub shlita, son of the Kalever Rebbe shlita, was there to meet with individuals and families to give advice and blessings on behalf of the Rebbe. There was free shaatnez checking, and free filter installation on mobile devices.
TorahAnytime’s live Tish’ah B’Av stream reached approximately 250,000 people worldwide within a 24-hour period in over 1,000 cities. The following are the impressive numbers that TorahAnytime was able to reach. There were over 70 lectures given. There were 78,000 website users, 19,500 mobile app users, 19,000 dial-in users, 189,000 live-stream viewers in all 16 live events combined. Chazaq had 36,000 live-stream viewers.
There is such a thirst for knowledge and spiritual connection in the world today. There is no doubt that, even with so much pain and suffering in the world, we are unmistakably moving in such a positive direction. Although Mashiach didn’t come yet, it’s only a matter of time – we all brought him so much closer with our show of unity and unconditional love for Hashem and His Torah. It was truly inspirational, and the community is grateful for this meaningful program. May next year be in Yerushalayim and a real chag. Shiurim can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime,com.
By Susie Garber