We often think about what would have happened “if only.” Where would we be now if only the coronavirus had never happened? What would our lives be like?
Rav Hillel Merzbach suggests we conduct an experiment during these days “between the straits” – between Shiva Assar B’Tammuz and Tisha B’Av – and imagine what our world would be like if only what happened on these two days had been different:
“On Shiva Assar B’Tammuz, the sin of the golden calf occurred. If we had not sinned on that day, Moshe would have come down from Mount Sinai without breaking the tablets and would have given them to us with great celebration. This would have changed the date of Simchat Torah to the 17th of Tammuz.
“On Tisha B’Av the sin of the spies occurred with their negative report. If the spies had returned from the Land of Israel full of optimism and excitement and inspired the people, this date would have been eternally remembered with joy instead of sadness.
“We missed opportunities, we messed up, but this is our chance to recall what happened, mourn over what we did, and try to rectify our deeds. On the 17th of Tammuz we disrespected the Torah and on the 9th of Av we showed disgust for the Land of Israel. But now we have three weeks to rectify through teshuvah what happened on these days.”
(Translation by Yehoshua Siskin)