The Shabbatot following Tisha B’av are known as “Shiva d’Nechemta,” the seven Shabbatot, of Comfort. After devoting Three Weeks to increasingly intense mourning for the destruction of both Temples and other Jewish tragedies, the Jewish people need a respite and a time for consolation.
I have often wondered why there are seven Shabbatot of consolation after Tisha B’av, while there are only three Shabbatot of mourning before Tisha B’av, called the Shabbatot D’puranita, the Shabbatot recalling the tragic events leading up to the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. Why do our Sages designate only three Shabbatot to remind us of the tragedy, and seven Shabbatot of consolation?
Often in life we are confronted with a formidable task of organizing or building something when before there was nothing. The building of the Belt Hamikdash spanned a period of seven years. King Solomon gathered together artisans from all over the world to construct and beautify the Belt Hamikdash. Thousands of workers were engaged in the process. It was a time of intense building in which King Solomon had to lovingly attend to every detail of the construction. Yet in one day, the Belt Hamikdash was burned to the ground. Years of dedication to a task were obliterated in a single day. To destroy takes only minutes or hours, but to build is a painstaking and intricate process.
One might compare this in our times to the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11. The construction of these buildings took years of arduous labor. Yet with one act of violent terrorism, these two beautiful massive structures fell to the ground in just hours. All that work was destroyed in a fraction of the time it took to build.
When we hear the news of a depraved person, Omar el Abed, who just recently committed this heinous act of terror killing the members of the Saloman family, we are left with the image of a single act of destruction that will forever be engrained in the hearts and the minds of the survivors causing suffering and tears. Years of building love relationships, destroyed by one senseless, cruel act of terror.
Perhaps this is the reason that our sages set aside only three Shabbatot to recall the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, yet seven Shabbatot for consolation. Anyone can destroy. But to build requires much more dedication and devotion. At least seven weeks of consolation are necessary to undo the terrible destruction that occurred.
In life as well, relationships take years to nurture and build. Yet with one mean and cruel word, a relationship can be compromised and even obliterated. There is a famous saying in Yiddish describing this phenomenon. “A Shmais dergeit, ober a vort derbleibt,” a slap may with time be forgotten, but an unkind word remains forever ingrained in the consciousness of the individual.
Thus, Tisha B’Av is also dedicated to the power of our speech and the destruction that is caused by speaking lashon hara. Our Sages expound that the Second Temple was destroyed because of blind hatred and the lack of sensitivity and compassion. When we are unable to speak a kind word to our neighbor, the end result is destruction and havoc. It is therefore logical that a person who speaks lashon hara is inflicted with leprosy and must remove himself from society.
If you can’t control your mouth, then you don’t deserve to be a part of the community, and hence your abode is outside the camps of Israel.
It is also appropriate that the Sedra of the first Shabbat following Tisha B’av begins with the words “Va’etchanan el Hashem,” and Moshe beseeched Almighty G-d. To survive the forces of destruction, one must first control ones tongue and the words that we utter. What better way to do this than to focus our words in prayer to Almighty G-d?
May, the prayers that we recite this year herald the time of our redemption and the building of the third Temple, speedily.