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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

The Spies dispatched 40 days earlier by Moses to tour the Promised Land return to Israel's encampment in the desert, bearing a huge cluster of grapes and other lush fruits. But even as they praise the land's fertility, they terrify the people with tales of mighty giant warriors dwelling there and assert that the land is unconquerable.

Links:
Generation Gap
The Spies

Fighting breaks out inside the besieged city of Jerusalem between Jewish factions divided on the question of whether or not to fight the Roman armies encircling the city from without. One group sets fire to the city's considerable food stores, consigning its population to starvation until the fall of Jerusalem three years later.

Laws and Customs
Starting in the afternoon, Tachanun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted.

The fast of Tishah B'Av begins this evening at sunset.

Some of the fast's mourning practices--such as refraining from Torah study other than texts related to the events and nature of the fast day--are observed beginning from midday today.

The final meal before the start of the fast, eaten shortly before sunset, is called seudah hamafseket. Only one cooked food is eaten at this meal, customarily an egg dipped in ashes.

"Eichah"--the Book of Lamentations--is read tonight in the synagogue after evening prayers.

See "Laws and Customs" for tomorrow, Av 9, for the particular observances of the fast day.

Links:
Mitzvah Minute: Tisha b'Av
Laws of Tishah B'Av

During the “Nine Days" from Av 1st to the Ninth of Av, we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple. We abstain from meat and wine, music, haircutting, bathing for pleasure, and other joyous (and dangerous) activities. (The particular mourning customs vary from community to community, so consult a competent halachic authority for details.)

Consumption of meat and wine is permitted on Shabbat, or at a seudat mitzvah (obligatory festive meal celebrating the fulfillment of certain mitzvot) such as a brit (circumcision), or a siyum celebrating the completion of a course of Torah study (i.e., a complete Talmudic tractate). The Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory initiated the custom of conducting or participating in a siyum on each of the Nine Days (even if one does not avail oneself of the dispensation to eat meat).

Citing the verse "Zion shall be redeemed with mishpat [Torah] and its returnees with tzedakah," (Isaiah 1:27) the Rebbe urged that we increase in Torah study (particularly the study of the laws of the Holy Temple) and charity during this period.

Links:
Nine Days laws and customs
Daily live siyum broadcasts
Learn about the Holy Temple in Jerusalem

Daily Thought

At first, there was punishment.

There were prophets who warned the people—for there is no punishment without warning.

There were people who understood what they were doing and did it anyways—for there is no punishment without conscious intent.

And so, up to and including the destruction of the First Temple, there was punishment.

But then came a time when there were no prophets to provide due warning. And rare was the man who had the power of mind to intentionally sin. The suffering that occurred then, since the time of the Second Temple, cannot be called punishment. Instead it is called “tikkun”—healing, repair. Souls of past generations returned to this world to be repaired by standing firm despite great challenge and tribulation.

Then came the master of the hidden wisdom, the great Ari. According to his disciples, with his teachings he repaired all the souls of Israel.

It follows, writes the Mitteler Rebbe, that the suffering of the Jewish people since the Holy Ari, of blessed memory, are neither punishment nor repair. If so, what are they?

We do not know.

One thing we do know: We know that we do not know.

But simply because the human mind cannot know a thing, does that mean this thing cannot exist? Because we cannot give a reason, is there then no reason?

Or perhaps it simply means that we should be a little more humble, since we are not the ones who made this world. We must wait, and when all the drama is done, then we will know with the knowledge of the Author Himself.

Only then, once we leave behind forever these dark clouds, will we fathom and truly see that all darkness is profound light.

See Sefer Hasichot 5751a, page 248, footnote 116.