We are once again in the days of Bein Hameitzarim - days of mourning and destruction. Although these events took place about two thousand years ago when the city was destroyed and the Beit Hamikdash was burned down – these are days of national mourning even now. During this period, about two thousand years ago, the phase of exile and wandering of our people began. Sadly, the people lost their vital connection to Eretz Israel.
Today, this period of mourning not only reflects our grief over the destruction, but also instills in us hope for the future. As we have learned from the well-known Midrash about Rabbi Akiva who laughed when he saw a fox coming out of the Holy of Holies: His friends were astonished, “Are you laughing?!” He replied that one should transcend the existing situation and see things through the perspective of people of the faith. Through the destruction of Jerusalem, you can envision it being rebuilt.
He is further quoted as saying, "Now that Uriah's prophecy was fulfilled" about the destruction of the House, "it is understood that Zechariah's prophecy is being fulfilled." Rabbi Akiva teaches us that long-term vision is the key to comfort.
Rabbi Akiva lived close to the time of the generation of the destruction, yet our generation needs double the consolation; while the exile has not ended, Geula is delayed. Hashem has provided comfort for our generation, through Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook – the great HaRaAYah. During this, the revival generation, when Am Yisrael is returning to its land and is building the state, there are often many perplexing issues raised about Geula in our generation. It is a time of both light and shadows. Mishnat HaOrot of HaRaAYah reveals the light, dispelling the many shadows that accompany the revival generation.
In his article "Nechamat Yisrael" the Rav points out that “comforting Israel” is a sacred duty for the Talmedai Chachamim of this generation. He defines this consolation by saying, “What is comfort? We must learn this, we must rise above the worthlessness of consolation for unimportant things, and all the more from comforting for things beyond our understanding. We must come to the emotional state, from which we can give true comfort, Hashem’s consolation.” (Mahamahrey HaRaAYah , p. 279.) According to the Rav, despair stems from seeing the present without a vision, without understanding 'what can be changed or done'.
Consolation, according to the Rav, is composed of two components:
- Recognition of the virtue of Klal Yisrael: "We must comfort Israel, announce the general praise of the Knesset of Israel, especially in its inclusiveness; to acknowledge the purity of the soul and the spiritual health that is rooted in it.”
- Emunah in the future of Am Yisrael according to Rabbi Akiva. In his introduction to the Song of Songs, the Rav describes Rabbi Akiva's vision: Rabbi Akiva laughs when he sees a fox scampering in the ruins where the Holy Temple once stood. For this spiritual giant, the distant future was as real and palpable as the present reality. To sum up: it is this perception of faith in Am Yisrael and its eternity that gives us confidence and comfort - by seeing the future of Am Yisrael.
"נצח ישראל לא ישקר ולא ינחם"