Menachem Ziegelbaum, Beis Moshiach
THANKS TO YOUNG MEN LIKE THESE
One year, on Tisha B’Av, the Tzaddik, Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin was a guest of the Alter Rebbe. As is customary with Chassidim, when they said the Kinos, they threw berelach at one another. They were a kind of burr that would sometimes get caught in one’s beard.
That year, the Chassid, Rabbi Shmuel Munkes, accidentally threw one of these burrs at R’ Shlomo. The Tzaddik was annoyed and said, “Because of young men like these the Mikdash was destroyed!”
The next day, after saying the Kinos, the two Tzaddikim went out for a walk. As they walked in the forest, they heard the sound of crying and wailing. They went to the source of the sounds and to their surprise were faced by a frightening scene.
R’ Shmuel was sitting in a hole that swarmed with biting fire ants and other creeping things and reciting the Kinos with terrible sobbing.
R’ Shlomo said to the Alter Rebbe, “Thanks to young men like these, the Beis HaMikdash will be built.”
OY, MOSHIACH STILL DID NOT COME
One year, erev Tisha B’Av after the seuda ha’mafsekes, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev stood near the window and looked out to the horizon with longing. Every so often he strained his ears, perhaps he would finally hear the footsteps of Moshiach.
The sun set and people began congregating in shul to say the Kinos but since R’ Levi Yitzchok, the Rav of the town, wasn’t present, nobody began reciting them. After a long time, the shamash went to see where the Tzaddik was and found him at the window. The shamash said in surprise, “The people have been waiting to read Eicha.”
R’ Levi Yitzchok awakened himself from his spiritual trance, opened his eyes and asked in dismay, “What? Moshiach is here?!”
“Not yet,” said the shamash.
R’ Levi Yitzchok ran to the shul, fell to the ground and cried out, “Eicha yashva vadad, ha’ir rabosi am …”
STILL NOT HERE?
When Rabbi Yitzchok of Radowil heard about the holy Rabbi Avrohom the “malach,” son of the Maggid of Mezritch, he yearned to see him and study his avodas Hashem.
R’ Yitzchok arrived erev Tisha B’Av in the shul where the “malach” davened. He saw all the worshipers sitting on the ground and saying Eicha, following the chazan who read the words in a mournful tune.
A sudden bitter cry was heard. R’ Yitzchok saw that it had been uttered by the “malach” who put his head between his knees and sobbed.
The chazan and congregants continued reciting Kinos until they were done and then everyone went home. Only R’ Avrohom remained in his place in the same position in which he began reading Eicha.
R’ Yitzchok continued to watch him but at midnight he felt he had to go to rest in his lodgings.
The next day, R’ Yitzchok got up and went to shul and was astounded to see the “malach” sitting in the same position, with his head between his knees, wailing over the churban. The area around him was damp with his tears. Now and then, the Tzaddik raised his head and asked in great sorrow, “He is still not here? He still didn’t come?” referring to Moshiach.
R’ Yitzchok realized that this Tzaddik was like no other which is why the title “malach” befit him.
SINGING ON TISHA B’AV AND CRYING ON SIMCHAS TORAH
A group of Jews, not Chassidim, once went to the Tzemach Tzedek wanting a private audience. When they entered the Rebbe’s room, they said, “We want to come close to Chassidus but there are obstacles, questions …”
“You can ask,” said the Rebbe.
The oldest of the group said, “We saw one of the great Chassidim crying on Simchas Torah and singing on Tisha B’Av. How could this be?”
The Rebbe said, “To a Chassid, a niggun is not joy and crying is not sadness. The crying is bitterness. On Simchas Torah, when he recalled the revelation of the light of Torah on this day and how the holy Torah rejoices with him, and thought of how distant he is, he felt bitterness.
“On Tisha B’Av, at the time of the churban, when he sees that the churban took place, he grasps his deep emuna in the fulfillment of the promises of redemption and this is why he sings…”
(based on Sefer HaSichos 5703)
NEW BOOK OF KINNOS
The Tzaddik, Rabbi Avrohom of Tchechenov would buy a new Kinos every year for Tisha B’Av since, every year, as soon as he finished reciting the Kinos with the congregation in shul, he would put the book in geniza and say, “I am certain that during the year the redeemer will come and there will be no further need for Kinos.”
(Sippurei Chassidim by R’ Zevin)
SPECIFICALLY ON TISHA B’AV
The Tzaddik, Rabbi Refael of Bershad, one of the great students of Rabbi Pinchas or Koretz, would devote much effort to restoring peace and love between people and spouses. Many went to him and asked for his help and advice and the Tzaddik would devote much time to this important matter.
One year, on Tisha B’Av, after he finished saying Kinos, he hurried to a home where there was strife, in order to generate peace.
Those close to him asked him in astonishment, “On Tisha B’Av?! Is there no better time than this day to make peace?”
R’ Refael replied, “Specifically on this day we should toil to make peace, more than any other day, since it was because of baseless hatred that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed.”
WE DON’T WANT THIS DAY
It was customary in some Chassidic courts on Tisha B’Av that as the Kinos were read, mischief was made to relieve some of the sadness of the day. This was done mainly by tossing berelach, burrs.
The rav of a town once complained to the Koznitzer Maggid, “How is it that you don’t reprove the children for throwing burrs in the beis medrash as Eicha is read, on Tisha B’Av, the day of the destruction of the Mikdash?”
The Maggid replied, “What should I do when even the children don’t want this day? Like them, I say to G-d, ‘Master of the universe, if you don’t like our behavior on this day, take it away from us.’”
PARSHAS PINCHAS IN THE THREE WEEKS
A simple Jew asked Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, “Isn’t it odd that during the Three Weeks, when we refrain from joy and mourn the destruction of the Mikdash, and we read the three haftoras of reproof and disaster, that on one of these Shabbosos we read parshas Pinchas which includes the laws of the holidays, days on which we are commanded to be joyful?”
Said R’ Levi Yitzchok, “At this time of the year, when the hearts of the Jewish people are torn because of the destruction of Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash and the exile of the Shechina and the Jewish people and the memory of all this causes great anguish, perhaps we would sink into despair. Therefore, the Sages said to muster strength and read the section about the holidays during the Three Weeks in order to provide a spirit of joy to relieve the bitterness of exile somewhat.”