Tisha B’Av vs. Shabbos

D’var Torah

(Comments and reactions are always welcomed in response to the ideas presented in the D’var Torah)


When contemplating the combination of the forthcoming Shabbos, תשעה באב שחל להיות בשבת (Tisha B’av that falls on Shabbos), one cannot help but think of Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the other.  One of these things doesn’t belong.  Can you tell which thing is not like the other…”

In all of Judaism could there be any less appropriate shidduch than Shabbos and Tisha B’av!?  Can we really pair paradise, oneg, delight, Gan Eden with churban, Inquisition, death, destruction and Holocaust?

קא משמע לן our calendar and its masterminds, who could have arranged otherwise, come to teach us that Tisha B’av and Shabbos can be paired together.   Opposites in our crazy world can attract.

There are some important halachik ramifications when Tisha B’av occurs on Shabbot as well.  Without giving a halachik psak, there are unique restrictions involving Torah learning, seuda shlishit and marital relations, among other things.  (See Shu”A/M”B section 552, 554 and KS”A section 125.)

What is the message of תשעה באב שחל להיות בשבת?

Secondly, Rebi Yehuda Hanasi wanted to nullify Tisha B”av altogether, when Tisha B”av falls out on Shabbos. (Gemara Megilla 5b).  The great compiler of the Mishanah reasoned, “Since it is pushed off, it should be canceled completely.”  Even though the halacha is not like Rebi (unfortunately), he is teaching us an important idea.  What is Rebi teaching us?

There can be no denying that our People, in various degrees, has been through hell on earth and then back again.  If the tragedies, annihilations, genocides, themselves haven’t shattered us completely the thought of them should.  One would have hoped that the ride of the Chosen Nation would have been a bit smoother, but it was not meant to be.  Did Shabbos ever stand in the way of any of our tormentors?

How many Jews in our generation and in all generations have said, “Enough gas chambers, enough crematoria, enough pogroms in Russia, Inquisitions in Spain and terrorists attacks in Israel – Enough!”  In one way or another they are staying what the students of Rebbi Akiva said when they saw their Rebbe being skinned to death (paraphrase)  זו תורה, וזו שכרה?! You are the Torah and this is the reward!?

But Rebbi Akiva and all of the tzaddkim know a deep secret.  (When I say tzaddikim, I do not mean Rabbis in streimals, frocks, black hats and Begi’shas [Begdai shabbos], though some or many of them are also tzaddikim.  I refer to countless quiet tzaddkim and tzadkaniyot, simple Jews throughout Jewish history that had an understanding of who they are in this world and “where things are going.”)  This is not only the secret of our survival but it is the secret of the Jewish soul.  These Jews understand – Shabbos trumps Tisha B’Av.

It is true.  In a fleeting, ephemeral, transitory, short-lived world, Tisha B’Av, at times, does overcome Shabbos.  While this is truly hard information to swallow, however, a Jew is meant to disregard that information completely and entirely because of its worthlessness.  A Jew’s mind and heart is fixed on the knowledge that in the endless, perpetual, ever-lasting, Eternal World not only does Shabbos overcome Tisha B’Av, Tish B’Av doesn’t even exist.

Tisha B”av on Shabbos makes us recall “a real Tisha B’Av on Shabbos” – Shabbos in the Warsaw Ghetto.

The City of Warsaw was captured by the Germans in late September of 1939.  Shortly before the war the Piaseczner Rebbe, Rabbi Klonymus Kalman Shapira ZT”L, who at this point resided within the area which soon would be part of the Ghetto, lost his dear wife, Rebbetzin Chayyah Shapira ZT”L.  The heaviest bombardment of the Nazis took place during the Yomim Naraim.  On the day after Yom Kippur, Monday, September 25th, “a day of exceptional savagery” the Rebbe’s only son, Elimelech Shapira, was mortally struck in the arm by shrapnel from a German bomb.  He passed away a few days later.  The Rebbe’s daughter-in-law and her sister, who were waiting outside of the hospital, were also killed in a bombing during this time.

In the midst of losing his entire family, the Piaseczner Rebbe erected a small Sukka, instructed the Chazzan to sing all of the special Yom Tov melodies on Sukkot and danced with the Torah and his Chassidim on Simchat Torah.  Just as remarkable is the fact that from 1939-1942 the Piaseczner Rebbe stayed active and dedicated to inspiring and lifting the spirits of fellow Jews in the Ghetto.  His teaching that he recorded during these years, can be found in his work, Esh Kodesh.

The Piaseczner Rebbe is one of countless tzaddikim that we know of, among countless others that we will never know of that persevered during life’s most difficult times – a personal Tisha B’av – with the understanding that in “the world which counts” Shabbos triumphs.

A Jew knows, and he or she must live with this consciousness, that no matter how bad things get – Shabbos is coming.  As bad as a “Jew’s week can be”, Shabbos is Kviya V’kayma, Shabbos is the permanent fix.

These are not theoretical ideas reserved for other worlds and other times.  This Shabbos is our chance to experience and internalize that which true tzaddikim know and live always.  Tonight, as we bring in Tisha B’av, we have the opportunity to connect with the inner knowledge now and forever, that Shabbos completely eliminates Tisha B’av.

Shabbot Shalom,

Shalom Tzvi

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