A Kind Suffering

by Rabbi Eliezer Gurkow

The Hebrew word Chesed, kindness, has a numeric value of seventy-two. Kabbalah teaches that the last seventy-two days of the Hebrew calendar year are permeated with Chesed, divine benevolence. This period begins on the seventeenth day of the Hebrew month, Tammuz.

This day is also the first of a three-week (plus one day) period during which we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and the exile of the Jewish nation from Israel in the year 69 CE. Fasting and severe mourning mark the first and last days of this period as we respectively commemorate the anniversaries of the breach of Jerusalem's walls and the fall of the Holy Temple.

This begs a question. How can a period of such suffering be simultaneously permeated with divine benevolence?

Hidden Good
The Hebrew word Tov, which means "good," has a numeric value of seventeen. The Bnei Yissachar teaches that this "good" is tied into seventeen days of this three-week period. What sort of goodness is connected with these seventeen days? A hidden one. The Talmud teaches that upon creation of the world G-d withheld a large measure of "goodness" and kept it in store, to be revealed when the Mashiach comes

These seventeen days may appear negative on the surface but are in fact fully permeated with divine goodness. Just below the surface lies an intense measure of "goodness," yet to be revealed.

The Talmud teaches that all punishment and suffering are veils drawn by G-d over kindness that is too powerful to be directly perceived. Yet the Psalmist promised that when Mashiach comes this veil will be removed and we will come to understand the positive import of our nation's suffering. At that time we will recognize the true character of divine benevolence that characterizes these seventeen days.

What of the Additional five days of this Period?

These five days are in fact not sad at all. They are comprised of three days of Shabbat and one day of Rosh Chodesh, all which fall during this period. The fifth day is the Ninth of Av, which was declared a festival by the prophet Jeremiah because the potential for Mashiach was born on this day.
May we merit the immediate unveiling of this goodness and may these days of mourning soon be transformed into days of celebration and joy.


[Reprinted with permission from //AskMoses.com]

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