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Shabbos: A Day With Hashem – Our Father’s Table

During the nine days of mourning over the Bais HaMikdash, many of us have trouble really feeling the loss. This is why Chazal instituted halachos and customs to help us mourn. However, when we reach Shabbos Chazon, and the halachos of mourning come to a halt, it gets even harder. What can we do on this Shabbos to help us yearn for the Bais HaMikdash?

Eliyahu HaNavi tells us (Brachos 3a) that when Klal Yisroel say “Yihei shmei rabba mevorach – May His great name be blessed forever and ever,” Hashem figuratively shakes His head and says: “Happy is the king who is praised in his home! Woe to the father who exiled his sons and woe to the sons who were exiled from their father’s table!” We see from here that there are two separate tragedies that Hashem laments – His “loss” and ours. Let us explain.

 

The Bereaved Parent

One of the most heart-rending scenes in the Holocaust was when the Nazis cruelly snatched babies from their mothers’ loving embrace. The women shrieked in agony and felt as if a part of them was being taken away. Our strong desire to bear children is so that our ideals and accomplishments will continue in this world. Each of us is a link in the chain that started with the Avos and will end with the generation of Moshiach. The Avos began revealing Hashem’s presence in this world and they commanded us, their offspring, to continue that monumental task until the complete revelation will occur. We do so not only through our own actions, but also through what we etch in the hearts of our offspring. Woe to the parent whose child is taken from him! Besides for the natural pain, he sees his ability to continue his mission disappearing.

This is the first tragedy. It is obvious that essentially Hashem doesn’t need our help, but for unrevealed reasons He created this world in a way that He “needs” us to reveal His presence. When we had a Bais HaMikdash, we accomplished that task. We sacrificed korbonos using the four basic components the world is made from, which turned the mundane into spirituality. This exalted Hashem, and showed that the entire world was created in order to serve Him. The constant, open miracles in the Mikdash (see Avos 5:5) demonstrated that there was a Creator. However, when we stopped fulfilling His will, Hashem removed His presence from the Bais HaMikdash and this great edifice was destroyed. This is why when we shout with all our might: “May His great name be blessed forever and ever,” Hashem figuratively shakes His head. On the one hand it “comforts” Him, for we show that we desire His return, but on the other hand it causes “pain” and He proclaims: “Woe to the father whose children have gone to exile!”

 

The Exiled Child

The second tragedy is the one of the exiled child himself. When a child is torn from his parents, his connection to his past is severed. Even more so, only a father can truly understand his son’s heart and only a mother will spend sleepless nights caring for a sick child. When a child needs encouragement whom can he turn to? If he needs to be reprimanded, who will do it with love? Who will make sure that he has all his needs, and ensure that he doesn’t slip through the cracks of the system?

This is what happened when we were exiled from our Father’s table, the Bais HaMikdash. The Vilna Gaon explains that when we had a Bais HaMikdash we received our sustenance directly from Hashem. Now that it was destroyed, Hashem sustains us through the heavenly ministers of the nations of the world. Simply speaking, this is a sign of severe separation. On the one hand, we are still Hashem’s children, and thus, Hashem still loves us and takes care of us. But on the other hand, because of our sins, Hashem distances Himself and sustains us indirectly in order to arouse us to mend our ways.

About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus, raised and educated in Los Angeles and subsequently Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim, is the Rosh Kollel of the Zichron Aron Yaakov Kollel in Kiryat Sefer , Israel. He lectures for the public and is the director of the Chasdei Rivka Free Loan Gemach. He can be reached at kollel.zay@gmail.com.


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