Tisha B’av: Constructive Tears – by Reb P.G. Waxman

kosel thelakewoodscoopThe Gemara[1] states: “All who mourn [the destruction of] Yerushalayim will merit to see its happiness.” The question is, many mourned and passed on without seeing the rebuilding of Yerushalayim. It is difficult to explain it to mean that they will see the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the Beis Hamikdosh following techiyas ha’mesim, because everyone who merits resurrection will see the rebuilt Beis Hamikdosh at that time.

Moreover, it says “zocheh v’roeh” in the present tense (and not yizkeh v’yireh[2]) which implies that the rebuilt Yerushalayim will be seen currently or shortly.[3]

The posuk[4] says (in the second Hallelukah) “Bonei Yerushalayim Hashem, nidchei Yisroel y’chaneis” – “Hashem is the Builder Who builds Yerushalayim, and will gather the scattered of Yisroel”.

Why is the first phrase in the present tense, while the latter phrase references the future?

We say in Shemoneh Esrei of Minchah on Tishah B’Av: “For You, Hashem, with fire You consumed her, and with fire You will rebuild her (the Beis Hamikdosh).”

Rashi and Tosafos explain[5] that the third Beis Hamikdosh will descend from sha’mayim above as a completed Mikdosh.[6]

What does this mean? What does the fire represent? And why will the Beis Hamikdosh be established in such a manner?

Many suggest[7] that there is a Beis Hamikdosh in the olam ha’machshavah, the upper world of thought, as well as in the olam ha’maaseh, the physical world of deeds.[8] The one in “the world of thought” is in Sha’mayim (Heaven), constantly being built by our thoughts, our mourning, our tears, our prayers, and our aspirations.

Step by step, brick by brick, we are building that Beis Hamikdosh of fire.[9] If one properly mourns the destruction and loss of Yerushalayim, then when he dies, he will observe what his mourning created, and how his tears and yearning contributed to the rebuilding process.

This may also explain why tzepesa l’yeshuah, yearning for geulah, is such a fundamental and crucial part of our emunah.[10] Our belief and hope in the geulah is not only in the abstract, but is integral to and intertwined with the geulah process, as the yearning itself constantly contributes to the actual rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdosh.

Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin asks,[11] if it is a mitzvah for us to build the Beis Hamikdosh, why will it descend from above in a finished form of fire, and not be built by man?[12]

We can possibly answer that since our thoughts, prayers, and aspirations are currently building the Beis Hamikdosh of fire, when it descends it is considered as having been being built by us.

With this train of thought, the Shelah[13] explains that we may not mourn for the Beis Hamikdosh on Shabbos, because it is prohibited to build it on Shabbos, and our mourning contributes to its construction.

This may explain why the praise (in the second Hallelukah) “He is the Healer Who heals the broken-hearted” comes in conjunction with referencing the rebuilding of Yerushalayim. Hashem heals our broken hearts by transforming our sadness and mourning into a Mikdosh of fire that will become the Third Beis Hamikdosh.

Our tears of mourning are constructive tears – figuratively and literally, and are in contrast to the destructive tears that Klal Yisrael shed in the desert on Tishah B’Av as they accepted the negative report of the meraglim.

The Gemara[14] explains that although the Beis Hamikdosh was set on fire late in the afternoon on the ninth day of Av and continued burning throughout the next day, we fast only on Tishah B’Av because the main tragedy is the onset of its destruction.

Perhaps we can add that since the actual mourning of the Churban directly causes its reconstruction, we reduce the level of aveilus after midday of Tishah B’Av, and culminate all mourning midday on the tenth of Av, to indicate not only our hope and bitachon that the Beis Hamikdosh will be rebuilt, but to also reflect the fact that our mourning and our tears are already building the Third Beis Hamikdosh.

May we be zocheh to the comfort of Tzion and Yerushalayim, speedily in our day.

Feedback, critique and additional references are welcome at [email protected] or 732.363.0300.


[1] Taanis 30b.

[2] As in the end of U’va L’tzion. Asked by Rav Chaim Voloziner in Kehillas Yizchok Parshas Devorim; Rav Meir Shapiro in Rebbi Meir Omer 98.

[3] See Ritvah; Mabit Beis Elokim Tefillah 17; Chasam Sofer Bava Basra 60b.

[4] Tehillim 147:2.

[5] Unlike Rambam Hilchos Beis Habechira 1:4, Melochim 11:1,4.

[6] Sukkah 41a; Rosh Hashanah 30a. See Bava Kamma 60b; Zohar Mishpatim 108a, Pinchos 221a.

[7] See Chasam Sofer Drashos 7 Av 339; Dover Shalom in Siddur Otzer Ha’tefillos; Imrei Emes Parshios Mekeitz and Devarim; Zerah Kodesh Ki Saytzei; Rav Schwab Iyun Tefillah 159; 362.

[8] See Maharshah and Anaf Yosef Chagigah 12b; Shem Meshmuel Bereishis 112.

[9] Thoughts transformed to Fire: Tosafos Menachos 29a,110a; Shelah Shaar Ha’osios 30; Rikanti, Kli Yakar Vayikra 10:1; The word root of eshtoenosav (thoughts) becomes aish (fire) when spelled with the internal alef/ instead of the external ayin..

[10] Shabbos 31a; Rambam Hilchos Melachim 11:1; Ani Ma’amin #12.

[11] Damesek Eliezer Parshas Terumah.

[12] He answers that it will descend almost totally built, and we will make the final improvements to the gates, categorizing it as being constructed by man.

[13] Taanis, Ner Mitzvah #33.

[14] Taanis 29a.

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