From the Chassidic Rebbes
Clouds of Shame and Redemption
In Book of Eichah read on Tisha B'Av, one
can see how judgment is transformed into redemption. For example, the verse, "G-d,
in his anger, shamed fair Zion" sounds like it is referring to harsh punishment.
The word for "shame", yaiv, brings to mind a thick cloud of negative
energy. Clouds are also associated with the word "av", since
thick clouds of rain are called "avim". Thick clouds also represent
kelipah, concealment of G-dliness.
However, clouds also have positive
associations, just as the curses in Vayikra and Devarim have the potential to
become blessings. Moshe Rabbeinu could not enter the Sanctuary because a cloud
settled on top of it. On the day the Torah was given, there was so much smoke
and so many clouds that the Jewish People could not approach the mountain further.
In one verse, the flight of angels is compared to thick clouds in the sky. "Mi
eleh" ("Who are they") is said in connection with the angels. "Mi"
or who expresses the aspect of concealment, "eleh" or these,
expresses revelation. The connection between the two opposite concepts comes from
a higher level than both of them, but the basic idea is that the clouds function
as a concealment which will eventually be lifted in the time of revelation.
is also a connection between the words "yaiv" and "eika"
which expresses the potential for redemption through progressive teshuvah. "Eika"
is spelled with the Hebrew letters "aleph" and "yud", and
"caf" and hei. The yud of Eika corresponds to the number ten,
standing for the ten commandments. On this level, the ten commandments are engraved
inside out, since the external aspect of the ten commandments are revealed in
the physical world, and the internal aspect is revealed in the higher worlds.
The yud is also associated with the ten sefirot the way they are rooted in the
Infinite Light, Blessed be He. The aleph is above the 10 sefirot and is
part of the essence of G-d. Caf expresses the quality of kingship.
are all of these elements represented by the letters connected? The aleph-yud
combination and the cof-hei are connected through yaiv, the thick cloud,
and av. Even though yaiv and av are associated with descent and kelipah, the concealment
has a significant role to play. Zion had to descend in order to clothe itself
in the kelipah as a first step toward teshuvah. It is only through this process
that the lower elements can be refined. Av, for instance, represents a sin done
intentionally. When the av is elevated through teshuvah, the sins are transformed
into merits. Teshuvah also balances the gevurah in the verse, "G-d, in his
anger, shamed fair (yaiv) Zion," because the teshuva sweetens the aspect
of strict justice and assuages anger.
the Masters of Kabbalah
Why is Megillat Eicha (Lamentations)
- the scroll which is read on Tisha B'Av to commemorate the destruction of the
Holy Temple - not written on a separate piece of parchment just like Megillat
Esther (the Book of Esther) -- the scroll which is read on Purim?
Moshiach comes, Tisha B'Av will be transformed from a day of sorrow into a day
of rejoicing. As every single day we await Moshiach's arrival, making Lamentations
more "permanent" by committing it to parchment is not really necessary
and would imply that we had already despaired, G-d forbid. Purim, however, will
also be celebrated in the Era of Redemption, and thus the parchment scrolls will
also be used then.
the eve of Tisha B'Av each year Reb Avraham of Chechanov would have to buy a new
copy of Kinos--Lamentations. For every year, as soon as the mournful service was
over, he would stow away his copy in the place where old and battered sacred books
were lodged until they were buried. And each time he did this he would say: "I
am sure that Moshiach will come this year, and then we won't have any further
need for books of Lamentations."
(A Treasury of Chasidic Tales)
Some Laws and Customs
Tisha b'Av, the 9th day of the month of Av
(nightfall, July 26- 27), is the 24+ hour fast commemorating when the
two Temples were both destroyed. Starting after the Shabbat of August
13, to display our mourning we do not wear leather shoes, act intimately,
bathe for pleasure, or anoint. From the beginning of the fast, until
Thursday "noon" (half the hours between sunrise and sunset),
we sit on low chairs or pillows, do not put on tefillin or tallit
gadol, refrain from learning Torah and certain parts of prayer which
cause or show joy. Also we should refrain from pleasant greetings. On
Wednesday night we read Eicha (Lamentations) which describes the
first Temple’s destruction, and on Thursday it is customary to read special
sad Kinot—prayers concentrating on the destruction. Interestingly,
we do not recite Tachanun—a daily prayer associated with atoning
for sins. This is because, with the arrival of the redemption, the 9th
of Av will be transformed into a tremendous holiday, and on Shabbat, Rosh
Chodesh, and holidays we do not recite Tachanun.
May this transformation
be an immediate reality!
The ASCENT staff
From Ascent Quarterly #42
Q I have several questions based on our jet-age society. Flying
from Tokyo to London, for example, the day is thirty-five hours long. 1) To determine
the proper time for the daily prayers, do you use the sunset and sunrise of one
city or the other, or somewhere in the middle? I've heard many intriguing arguments,
but they can't all be correct!
2) And what if the day is Tisha b'Av? Can a fast be mandatory for
A This is not an official
answer, just another opinion for your collection.
1) On the plane, daybreak,
sunrise, sunset and nightfall times are established according to the location
of the plane. But be careful: these times are all defined from an earth perspective,
not a sky one. When you see light from the plane, that doesn't mean there is light
yet down on the surface.
2) Anyone who flies from Tokyo to London on 9 Av
deserves to fast for 35 hours!
last year's Three
for more Kabbalah
insights on The Nine Days