emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sackcloth and Ashes

No, we're not talking Tisha B'Av here. For that we would do well to follow the prescription of Reb Gutman Locks:

First off, the destruction happened because Jews hated Jews without reason, so the main, if not sole avoda (service) of the Three Weeks and Nine Days should be an all-out effort by the entire Jewish people to show Jews love without reason. This should be our extra daily effort these days. No mourning and no depression…just extra friendship and love without reason.

Rav Kook z"l, put it all in two words: Ahavas Chinom.

And is not the concept of ahavas chinom part and parcel of the mitzvah of to love you fellow as yourself?

In EmunahSpeak: Perhaps They’re Better Than You, we quoted the Lubavitcher Rebbe z"l, as follows:

"The mitzvah of love your fellow Jew applies (even) to a Jew across the world whom you have never seen.”

And the Rebbe didn’t mean that we should feel obligated to send him a check if we should find out that he needed help because the Rebbe’s understanding of love your fellow as yourself wasn’t mortgaged to a touchy feely chesed interpretation.

However much the Rebbe z”l, was wont to darshen in many other areas of Torah, vis รก vis the mitzvah of love your fellow as yourself his approach was literally straight down Main Street.

“What kind of love,” he asked?  “Torah contains no idle words.  When it says ‘love your fellow as yourself,’ love means love.  Your fellow means not you, but him.  As yourself?  Just as much as you love yourself.”

So much for mourning over the past, but what about the future?

That's what the sackcloth and ashes are for.

We are told in the third perek of Megillas Esther that Ahasuerus took off his signet ring  and gave it to Haman HaRasha.  He then told Haman that he could do with the Jews as he wished, and with the full power of the monarchy now vested in himself, Haman proceeded to send out the letters that authorized the destruction of all of the Jews.

With that done, the third perek ends with Haman and Ahasuerus sitting down to drink.

Without missing a beat, the fourth perek begins:

And Mordecai knew all that had been done, and Mordecai rent his garments and he donned sackcloth and ashes....

We are in the midst of a Purim story.  The most important nations of the world have agreed to give Iran a clear shot at destroying the Yishuv in Eretz Yisroel, chas v'shalom.

And with the deed done, they have sat down to drink.

So what should our response be?

In EmunahSpeak: Gevalt!, we related that we have it on the good authority of Rabbi Moshe Shapiro that if only one community (minimum of ten adult males) or one synagogue repents Klal Yisroel will be instantly redeemed in their merit.

And as we said in EmunahSpeak: The Yesod of Teshuva, at a minimum, to do Teshuva you have to strip away all of the excuses.  So say goodbye to all of the ifs, buts, and maybes, as you take yourself down to your spiritual socks.

There is no longer a Mordecai to show us the way.  All we have is his example.  The only thing left to us is whatever translates into sackcloth and ashes for our time, each person according to his level.