We know we’re supposed to be sad on Tishah B’Av, but it’s hard to figure out how to feel
Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky
The Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinas chinam. The antidote to sinas chinam is ahavas chinam. It may be hard for children to relate to losing the Beis Hamikdash, but you’re never too young to work on caring about other people. To the contrary, if you don’t start noticing other people and caring about them when you’re young, it’s much, much harder when you’re older. Look around for opportunities to help a friend. Try to make someone else feel good. Even if you know you’re right, you can give in to another person for shalom. No matter how old you are, this is the time to accept upon yourself to try to be nicer to people.
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman
Try to remember a time that you lost something important to you, or something important to you got ruined. Remember how you felt.
You felt terrible, didn’t you? You thought about it all the time.
We had a Beis Hamikdash that was more important than a thousand shuls. We can hardly grasp how special it was. Even though we weren’t there, our souls and spirits and people were there. We can use our imagination to feel what it must have been like to be there. Then we can remember that we once had our Beis Hamikdash and we can daven that Hashem give it back to us.
Rabbi Paysach Krohn
This story was originally printed in Rabbi Paysach Krohn’s book Along the Maggid’s Journey. Rabbi Krohn heard the story from his son-in-law Rabbi Chananya Kramer, who heard the story from his mother, Mrs. Shana Kramer. This story happened when she was a little girl in camp in Aurora, Indiana.
On the first day of camp, during orientation, the head counselor announced a special project. “This year, we are going to build a model Beis Hamikdash! Our goal is to complete it by visiting day.
“This will be an incredible learning experience. We have assigned the keilim (vessels) of the Beis Hamikdash to different bunks. One bunk will learn about the Menorah and build a model; another will learn about the Shulchan and get a chance to build that, and so on. The learning counselors will teach each bunk the halachos regarding their particular part of the Beis Hamikdash, which we hope Klal Yisrael will be allowed to build very soon, in Yerushalayim.”
Just imagine if you were one of the children in that camp! The atmosphere in camp that year was special. Everyone got involved in building their model Beis Hamikdash. They learned the halochos and built models of all the keilim.
After weeks of work, the model Beis Hamikdash was finished. They put it in the camp’s main building. All the campers had worked so hard on it. It was a masterpiece and everyone was so proud of it! They couldn’t wait for visiting day, when their parents would get a chance to see and admire it.
Tishah B’Av was just a few days before visiting day. The model of the Beis Hamikdash was moved outside on Erev Tishah B’Av, so all the campers could gather around it to listen to Megillas Eichah and say kinnos. The area was roped off, so that no one could get too close and damage it by mistake.
After the seudas hamafsekes, the campers all sat on the concrete paved area near the pool where the model was set up. The head counselor started to talk to the campers about the Beis Hamikdash. Dovid Hamelech had longed to build this holy place, but instead Hashem told his son, Shlomo Hamelech to build it.
The campers all listened with rapt attention as the head counselor described the millions of Jews that came to Yerushalayim to the Beis Hamikdash. The sun was setting and the sky was slowly getting darker.
While all the campers were listening to the description of the Beis Hamikdash, it seemed so real to them, with such an accurate model right there in front of them. They heard how the Jews disobeyed Hashem. The neviim warned them that Hashem was getting angry. Yirmiyahu Hanavi told them if they didn’t behave better Hashem would destroy the Beis Hamikdash. The Jews didn’t believe him. They thought the Beis Hamikdash would last forever.
At that very moment, all the campers watched in shock as a huge ball of fire fell from above the model and began to burn the Kodesh Hakodoshim of their model! As they watched their beautiful model go up in flames, some campers tried to run and put out the fire, but the fence around the model and their counselors stopped them.
A counselor had been hiding in a tree above their model with rags soaked in kerosene (kerosene is a liquid that burns very easily). A thin wire had been strung between the tree and the Kodesh Hakodoshim of the model. While their head counselor spoke about the Beis Hamikdash and Yirmiyahu’s warnings that it would be destroyed, the counselor in the tree lit the rags on fire and sent them down the wire to burn the model Beis Hamikdash.
The children cried and screamed as they watched their model Beis Hamikdash burn. Just like in the real Beis Hamikdash, the only part of their model that didn’t burn was the Kosel Hamaarvi — The Western Wall. The counselors had made sure to soak that part of the model in water, to make sure it wouldn’t burn.
Finally the head counselor managed to get the children’s attention. “You’re crying for this beautiful model that you built in just a few weeks in camp? The real Beis Hamikdash was much more beautiful and so much more special. We should cry now that we don’t have the real Beis Hakmikdash and that we don’t feel as close to Hashem as we did then. We should cry that we can’t see the Kohanim doing their avodah, or hear the Leviim singing their shirah. Let’s not cry for the model we built in just a few weeks, but rather, let’s cry for the real Beis Hamikdash that we’ve been waiting for, for 2,000 years.”
The campers went into the camp shul to daven Maariv, listen to Eichah, and recite kinnos. All the children who were there are grown up now. But that year in camp was so powerful, every year on Tishah B’Av they remember how they felt that year in camp and it helps them daven for Hashem to give us back the Beis Hamikdash, hopefully very soon.
Rebbetzin Batya Weinberg
Try getting together with friends. If there’s an older girl or mother who can sit with you as a facilitator, that’s even better. Find an English book or two with stories or thoughts appropriate for Tishah B’Av and take turns reading out loud. Kids will know stories of mesirus nefesh about their families or that they’ve heard elsewhere, and it’s very meaningful to go around in a circle telling them.
Part of galus is having to face challenges to our Yiddishkeit. If you’re with a group of close friends, you can share some of those challenges and how you overcome them. This helps us yearn for Mashiach when our questions will be cleared up and our challenges removed.
Rabbi Leibish Lish
Napoleon was the king of France. He used to walk around Paris to find out what the common people were thinking. One year on Tishah B’Av, he was walking through the Jewish Quarter and saw it was very quiet. He went into a shul and saw everyone sitting on the floor in the dark and crying.
Napoleon went up to one person very quietly and asked, “What’s going on?”
“We’re mourning our holy beautiful Beis Hamikdash that was destroyed.” “When did this happen? I didn’t hear anything.”
“It happened 1,700 years ago.”
Napoleon was shocked.and replied: “If people are crying so much, so many hundreds of years later, then I’m sure your Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt”.
Now, 250 years after that story in Paris, we are here in America, it’s hard for us to feel the galus. Tishah B’Av falls out during vacation time. We’re in camp, or in the country, and we became very comfortable in galus. Do we really want Mashiach to come today? Do we really feel the pain of the Shechinah that isn’t home?
We must wake up. Hashem is waiting for His children. Tragedies remind us not to be comfortable in galus.
Let us show Hashem that we don’t need reminders that we’re in galus. Let us to show Hashem that we’re not comfortable in galus. It’s true that we’re having a good time; we’re allowed to have a good time. But at least the three times a day when we say V’sechezenah in Shemoneh Esreh or whenever we bentsh and say U’venei Yerushalayim — when we ask Hashem to let us see Him come back, and rebuild Yerushalayim — at least for those few moments a day, let’s try to concentrate on the words and really want Hashem to rebuild His Home.
May we be zocheh to the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash speedily.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 869)
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