Friday, August 8, 2008

Too Little, Too Late

All too often in life, once we wake up from our self-imposed stupor and realise what is truly important in our lives, it is too late.

For three weeks, we have been in a state of mourning, which culminates this Sunday with Tisha B'Av. Here we had a three-week historic period when in the time of the Beit HaMigdash, Hashem in His Mercy gave the yiddin three weeks in which to do teshuvah before the fall of Yerushalayim was complete. All we had to do was repent for our sins, and Hashem would have overturned the siege and conquer. But instead, in our perpetual hard-headedness, we refrained from doing so, resulting in our spiritual downfall, and physical torment.

To be frank, have the generations since done any better? What is it about us as human beings that causes this fog that covers our heads and hearts, which destroys both our relationship with Hashem and each other? Why do we have this callous barrier that potentially impedes our happiness and success?

Most relationships are typified by an imbalance in giving: friends, families, shuls all demonstrate that there are always those who give more and those who receive more. So, while we all give and receive in our various social structures, often this imbalance is replicated in those social structures. Once this imbalance is in place, a perceptible lack can take over.

In the case of Tisha B'Av, we see that Hashem reached the point of no return; He is Our Father, and we, His ungrateful children, refused to give him the respect He deserves for so long, Our Father abandoned our gateway to Him. Similarly, in our human relationships, often when there is an imbalance in giving, critical needs in those relationships disintegrate under the pressure of giving or receiving too much. When we put our needs aside by giving too much, we fail to receive enough, and cannot continue to give endlessly. Conversely, if we receive too much, we fail to adequately give, which results in stunted ability to give, i.e. selfishness, a trait that no relationship can experience long-term and endure.

If we focus for even a few moments on how Hashem gives endlessly to us, and asks so little of us in return, and if we consider how truncated our lives are by the absence of the Beit HaMigdash, perhaps this year could truly be the Year of Mosiach. By contemplating how stifled our spiritual lives are by the lack of the Beit HaMigdash, and how little more giving would be required of us in order to effect its reconstruction, we should all merit that this year should be the last year that Tisha B'Av is marked as a day of mourning.

Good Shabbos, and may everyone have an easy, productive fast.

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