The Three Weeks 2018 – Part 1

The Three Weeks 2018 – Part 1

By Eliezer Szrolovits

Seriously Anticipating Mashiach’s Arrival

We are now within the Three Weeks period prior to Tish’ah B’Av. May we see the salvation before this Tish’ah B’Av.

HaRav Yisrael Salant zt”l stated that we can elevate ourselves spiritually on Tish’ah B’Av at least as much as we can on Yom Kippur. What did he mean, and what can we do in the coming days to reach that point of spiritual elevation, should we have to sit on the floor for yet another Tish’ah B’Av?

On Tish’ah B’Av, we need to have reached the point where we can sit on the floor and cry (with tears or in our hearts) over the loss that occurred almost 2,000 years ago. Which loss? The ultimate loss. We refer to the loss of the extreme and palpable closeness to Hashem that we experienced when we had the Beis HaMikdash. We came to the Beis HaMikdash periodically with the mindset of attaining greater awareness and fear/awe of Hashem. These visits would provide spiritual fuel until our next visit. The degree of our desire and yearning to feel the presence of Hashem was the determining factor in the degree to which we actually felt the closeness of Hashem. We witnessed daily miracles in the Beis HaMikdash, and it was the place on Earth where our potential for connection with Hashem was greatest.

The challenge is that we never experienced that closeness, so we can’t know what we lost. We can only imagine, based on what Chazal tell us. Most of us struggle with that and are far from the tzadikim who can imagine it vividly. So where does that leave the rest of us?

The world stands on three pillars: Torah, Avodah, and Chesed. Today, our “avodah” is tefilah. Let us examine two halachos of tefilah to derive the level of closeness that is possible during our Shemoneh Esrei. First, one may not pass within six-to-eight feet in front of someone davening Shemoneh Esrei. This is because, as we daven Shemoneh Esrei, we are standing directly before the Sh’chinah (meaning our connection with Hashem), and that person would be breaking our connection.

The second halachah is that before every Shemoneh Esrei, we are instructed to imagine that we are traveling to Eretz Yisrael, grabbing a taxi to Yerushalayim, entering the Beis HaMikdash, and then entering into the Kodesh HaKodashim. That is where we are standing while we are in our Shemoneh Esrei. It is from that holiest place on Earth that our tefilos, along with the tefilos of every other person who is davening, rise up to Shamayim.

These two halachos should infuse us with a sense of awe and an awareness of the great gift and opportunity we have each and every day, though it is but a taste of what we had. We should recognize that our awareness and closeness today is vastly distant from what we had when we could actually enter the Beis HaMikdash (in the parts of the Beis HaMikdash where we were allowed to enter).

What can we do in these Three Weeks to prepare ourselves to mourn the loss of the extreme degree of closeness to Hashem that we once experienced, and to set ourselves up for the spiritual elevation on Tish’ah B’Av that is akin to Yom Kippur, which will come about through our intense desire and yearning for that closeness to Hashem that we lost? How can we reach that state of intense yearning and desire to the point that we can cry about it on Tish’ah B’Av?

One avodah we can work on is mindfully observing the two halachos mentioned, and to think about what they mean. Mourn and cry internally over the fact that we may not feel even the closeness that is available to us, and over the fact that we can’t even imagine what once was.

Another avodah that we can embark upon is a special focus on those parts of tefilah that are directly related to preparing for Tish’ah B’Av. Some examples include the two brachos immediately preceding Shema Koleinu and the one after it, the second paragraph of Aleinu, and “Amein, Y’hei Sh’mei Rabba.” Towards that end, we suggest that you revisit the following previous segments, which are available on our website: Shemoneh Esrei 36, 37, 38, 39, 45, and 46.

“Tzion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness.”

Yeshaya 1:27

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You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.