From the Chassidic Rebbes
Clouds of Shame and Redemption
In Book of Eichah read on Tisha B'Av, one can see how judgment is transformed
into redemption. For example, the verse, "G-d, in his anger, shamed
fair Zion" sounds like it is referring to harsh punishment. The word
for "shame", yaiv, brings to mind a thick cloud of negative
energy. Clouds are also associated with the word "av",
since thick clouds of rain are called "avim". Thick clouds
also represent kelipah, concealment of G-dliness.
However, clouds also have positive associations, just as the curses in
Vayikra and Devarim have the potential to become blessings. Moshe Rabbeinu
could not enter the Sanctuary because a cloud settled on top of it. On
the day the Torah was given, there was so much smoke and so many clouds
that the Jewish People could not approach the mountain further. In one
verse, the flight of angels is compared to thick clouds in the sky. "Mi
eleh" ("Who are they") is said in connection with the angels.
"Mi" or who expresses the aspect of concealment, "eleh"
or these, expresses revelation. The connection between the two opposite
concepts comes from a higher level than both of them, but the basic idea
is that the clouds function as a concealment which will eventually be
lifted in the time of revelation.
There is also a connection between the words "yaiv" and "eika"
which expresses the potential for redemption through progressive teshuvah.
"Eika" is spelled with the Hebrew letters "aleph"
and "yud", and "caf" and hei. The yud of Eika
corresponds to the number ten, standing for the ten commandments. On this
level, the ten commandments are engraved inside out, since the external
aspect of the ten commandments are revealed in the physical world, and
the internal aspect is revealed in the higher worlds. The yud is also
associated with the ten sefirot the way they are rooted in the Infinite
Light, Blessed be He. The aleph is above the 10 sefirot and is
part of the essence of G-d. Caf expresses the quality of kingship.
How are all of these elements represented by the letters connected? The
aleph-yud combination and the cof-hei are connected through
yaiv, the thick cloud, and av. Even though yaiv and av are associated
with descent and kelipah, the concealment has a significant role to play.
Zion had to descend in order to clothe itself in the kelipah as a first
step toward teshuvah. It is only through this process that the lower elements
can be refined. Av, for instance, represents a sin done intentionally.
When the av is elevated through teshuvah, the sins are transformed into
merits. Teshuvah also balances the gevurah in the verse, "G-d, in
his anger, shamed fair (yaiv) Zion," because the teshuva sweetens
the aspect of strict justice and assuages anger.
From the Masters of Kabbalah
Why is Megillat Eicha (Lamentations) - the scroll which is read
on Tisha B'Av to commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temple - not
written on a separate piece of parchment just like Megillat Esther (the
Book of Esther) -- the scroll which is read on Purim?
When Moshiach comes, Tisha B'Av will be transformed from a day of sorrow
into a day of rejoicing. As every single day we await Moshiach's arrival,
making Lamentations more "permanent" by committing it to parchment
is not really necessary and would imply that we had already despaired,
G-d forbid. Purim, however, will also be celebrated in the Era of Redemption,
and thus the parchment scrolls will also be used then.
On the eve of Tisha B'Av each year Reb Avraham of Chechanov
would have to buy a new copy of Kinos--Lamentations. For every year, as
soon as the mournful service was over, he would stow away his copy in
the place where old and battered sacred books were lodged until they were
buried. And each time he did this he would say: "I am sure that Moshiach
will come this year, and then we won't have any further need for books
(A Treasury of Chasidic Tales)
Some Laws and Customs
Tisha b'Av, the 9th day (postponed from
Shabbat till Sun. 10th) of the month of Av (nightfall, August 13 -
14), is the 24+ hour fast commemorating when the two Temples were both
destroyed. Starting after the Shabbat of August 13, to display our mourning
we do not wear leather shoes, act intimately, bathe for pleasure, or anoint.
On Sunday, until noontime, we sit on low chairs or pillows, do not put
on tefillin or tallit gadol, refrain from learning Torah
and certain parts of prayer which cause or show joy. Also we should refrain
from pleasant greetings. On Saturday night we read Eicha (Lamentations)
which describes the first Temple’s destruction, and on Sunday it is customary
to read special sad Kinot—prayers concentrating on the destruction.
Interestingly, we do not recite Tachanun—a daily prayer associated
with atoning for sins. This is because, with the arrival of the redemption,
the 9th of Av will be transformed into a tremendous holiday, and on Shabbat,
Rosh Chodesh, and holidays we do not recite Tachanun.
May this transformation
be an immediate reality!
From Ascent Quarterly #42
"OUR JET-AGE SOCIETY"
Q I have several questions based on our jet-age society. Flying
from Tokyo to London, for example, the day is thirty-five hours long.
1) To determine the proper time for the daily prayers, do you use the
sunset and sunrise of one city or the other, or somewhere in the middle?
I've heard many intriguing arguments, but they can't all be correct!
And what if the day is Tisha b'Av? Can a fast be mandatory for
A This is not an official answer, just another opinion for your
1) On the plane, daybreak, sunrise, sunset and nightfall times are established
according to the location of the plane. But be careful: these times are
all defined from an earth perspective, not a sky one. When you see light
from the plane, that doesn't mean there is light yet down on the surface.
2) Anyone who flies from Tokyo to London on 9 Av deserves to fast for
last year's Tisha b'Av
on Shabbat page
for more Kabbalah
insights on The Nine Days