To cry. To panic.To the despair on the Night of Tears, Tisha Ba’Av. Twelve Spies were sent to bring back tidings of victory. Ten returned with death on their lips dripping with words of sedation and nullification, shaking the Faith of Our newborn Nation to its foundation.
In the sweltering heat of the desert summer, a “hamsin“, a desert storm unleashed the Hour of Reckoning upon the heels of entrance into the promised land. We broke our promise. Twelve were sent to reinforce a nation. Ten returned to set off a forty year stagnation of the Promised Land and its People’s unification. But the Holy Oral Law, the Gemara, communicates that the symptoms revealed that Night of Tears was a reflection of a spiritual malady that reared its appalling countenance some fourteen months earlier when the Golden Calf was made. It would plague our glorious and wonderful people throughout the millenniums; a disease of the soul, a perception of the mind, that was first instilled, drummed into our self-image as the whips and chains of the insufferable bondage of Egypt lashed our hearts and fettered our bodies and most tragically contaminated our Purity until we plummeted into the depths of near no return. True, G–d, in His Infinite Mercy, rescued us from spiritual oblivion, cleansing us, purifying us. Nonetheless, the development and strengthening of the muscles of faith can only be achieved through the exercise of Free Choice in fostering a proper self-esteem. How could one slave Nation contaminated by idolatrous doctrines believe itself worthy to have direct access with the Creator of Heaven and Earth unless it rectified its self-image. It was this lack of esteem that proclaimed on that Night of Tears, “We cannot ascend to that people for they are stronger than we. The land through which we have passed and spied is a land that devours its inhabitants. All the people that we saw in it were men of measures. We were like grasshoppers in our eyes and so we were in their eyes.” The ten leaders, each man a leader, each leader a Prince declared to the newly freed Nation, still a toddler, still healing from the damages of brutal bondage, “We were like grasshoppers in our eyes and so we were in their eyes”.
Chosen by G-d to survey the land they betrayed their holy Mission and became Infamous instigators. Chosen to inspire, instead they dissuaded the national aspirations of return; diffused the momentum to reclaim the homes their forebearers were forced to leave during the Great Famine of two centuries earlier; and impeded the national goal of building a G-dly Society in the land made Holy by the Creator. Unlike like Joshua, son of Noon and Calev Ben Yefunah, true leaders undaunted by any challenge, fearless in all circumstances, faithful and trustworthy to G-d, their Creator, during all trials and tribulations, these dishonorable ten cowered in the face of adversity. Can there be no greater crime of failed leadership than to demoralize a nation, to undermine fledgling self-esteem to the point of feeling an overwhelming abandonment, particularly when that sense of abandonment was totally without warrant. Had not G-d guided us, protected us, did combat for us, sustained us and led us in a revealed manner from the commencement of the Redemption? And so, these fallen princes, conflagrated a night of tears like no other.
Yet the fire of Destruction could not ignite without the necessary fuel of those present, and that was our distorted self-image that the cruel taskmasters inflicted upon us. Had we appreciated the worthy spark within us the tears of Abandonment would not have been. And so we cried for we repeated the sin of the Golden Calf. We reverted to that feeling that we were not deserving of Divine Favor. We had failed our G-d. We had doubted His love for us for we doubted ourselves.
Eventually we did enter the Promised Land. Centuries would pass and the nation of former slaves transformed into a world power, Illuminating and influencing the world to such Heights of moral and social advancement that we became as was declared by Jeremiah the Prophet, “The greatest among nations, the princess among provinces”. But again we fell into that pit of distorted self–image. Only this time our overwhelming sense of unworthiness turned into a devastating sense of haughtiness “Your prophets envisioned for you vanity and foolishness and they did not expose iniquity to bring you back in Repentance. They envisioned for oracles of vanity and deception.” said Jeremiah.
And so again on the Night of Tears, Hashem, G-d, our loving Father, our faithful Parent set out to correct our foolish ways, our childish manner. According to the correction needed, is the loving edification, the necessary course of enlightenment. The cascading Darkness that overtook our national Soul, plummeting us into an unprecedented limitation to rectify the Nation of G-d, to realign its disposition and character.
And Jeremiah said, “From on high He sent a fire into my bones and overcame them. He spread a net for my feet. He hurled me backwards. He made me desolate, sick throughout the day.” But why? “Because the burden of my transgressions accumulated. In His hand they were needed together and thrust upon my neck.” It was our transgressions, the remoteness, the Great Divide we created as we distanced ourselves from our great and Noble mission to be the nation of G-d, that were thrust upon our neck. We replaced the yolk of Heaven with the yolk of doubt, sin, baseless hatred, lethargy and the indecision to end the abyss of Exile.
On this Night of Tears, on this day of weeping as we scream in pain, weep in anguish, sit silently in hopelessness, wail in torments, sigh in exhausted breath, and look with a blanket look into the bleak Present because a Comforter to restore our Souls is far from us. Must shout at ourselves and command ourselves to get up. The righteous man will fall a thousand times and arise and grab unto Hashem’s cloak of mercy like a child latching onto his caring and beloved father’s coat, and beg, plead that He will pull us out from the chasm of Exile, as we force ourselves to stand up on our feet.
So long! So very long we have forgotten the fragrance of your Divine Presence, the beauty of your Holy House, the closeness of our bond. Like all tears that burst forth from the heart they cleanse and renew.
Let us cry. Let us Panic. Let us despair and resuscitate. For as Jeremiah said, “Hashem’s kindness has not ended, nor has his mercy been exhausted. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness, for the Master does not reject forever.”
How long shall we stand in the Great Divide? How long will we wallow in our divorce? How long will we be stiff-necked? Bring Us back to You, Oh Hashem and we shall return. Renew Our Days of Old. Trust us again, Hashem. Love us again. Return us home again.
We belong to You and You belong to us. We are weary and disgusted with our Exile. We are exhausted from our travels. We can no longer tolerate the misery of our loved ones, their hunger, their loneliness, sickness and poverty. Heal Us. Purify Us. Bring Us back to You, Oh Hashem and we shall return. Renew Our Days of Old.
recorded speech version