I’m not in the mood to continue on the topic of ikkarei emunah and psak today, Erev 9 b’Av. Bl”n I’ll get back to it on Wed., but if you have a craving for the topic until then, take a look at David Guttmann’s posts.
To view 9 Av as a Jewish 9/11 I think misses the point. The gemara quotes and rejects R’ Yochanan’s view that the fast should be on 10 Av, the date when the majority of the destruction and burning of the Mikdash took place. Instead, we mark the churban on 9 Av when the fire was first set to the Mikdash. Why? The Brisker Rav explains the choice of date based on the concept of “ba’u bah pritzim v’chililuha”, once the enemy entered the Mikdash, its kedusha was removed (See Avodah Zarah 52b and the rishonim there). The fire of 10 Av may have been more intense and catastrophic than the fire which started on 9 Av, but that fire was a fire which “only” destroyed a building of wood and stone. 9 Av is not marked because of the physical destruction which took place, but because that is the day on which the greatest chilul kedusha occurred.
I don’t mean to minimize the events of 9/11 (I work a few blocks away) – loss of life is always tragic, especially so when it comes at the hands of an enemy intent on senseless violence. But I think the Brisker Rav reminds us that tragedy, loss, destruction has to be seen within the framework of chilul Hashem, chilul kedusha, and not just a sense of personal loss and suffering. In that respect, one cannot possibly compare the destruction of 9/11 to the destruction of the Mikdash.
R’ Dessler (Michtav m’Eliyahu) asks: if the Jewish people failed to fulfill their mission in Eretz Yisrael, in a makom kadosh, what sense does galus make as a punishment – kal v’chomer we are bound to fail when further removed from the protection of that makom kadosh? The answer underscores the point of the Brisker Rav. When we were in Eretz Yisrael our failings not only were our own undoing, but they also polluted and caused a chilul Hashem and chilul of the kedushas ha’aretz. In galus, there is the danger of further failure, but that failure is tempered by it not polluting the kedushas hamakom of Eretz Yisrael.
R’ Soloveitchik in a eulogy of the Brisker Rav noted that one could not call the Brisker Rav a Zionist, but that is not because he did not love Eretz Yisrael, but simply because the question of a State is political and not halachic. The Brisker Rav and R’ Chaim’s chiddushim are filled with torah that analyzes every aspect of kedushas ha’aretz, kedushas mikdash, kedushas yerushalayim; these giants were sensitive to every nuance of kedusha that manifests itself in Eretz Yisrael, and their great love for Eretz Yisrael sprang from that appreciation.
Simply rebuilding the makom mikdash or its kelim are not the way out of 9 Av. The physical mikdash is a reflection of the mikdash in our hearts (see Nefesh haChaim section 1). A physical building which we are not ready for will just be a building, not a Mikdash; kelim which we are not ready to use will just be utensils, not vehicles for avodah. The tikkun for 9 Av is not recreating a physical building – it is recreating the sense of hashra’as haShechina which once was, in removing the chilul Hashem and chilul kedusha.
While the process of tikkun may seem impossible, recall that while it took 2000 years for Klal Yisrael to deserve Eretz Yisrael again, it took just 20 (1948 to 1967) for us to once again deserve Yerushalayim once we had a State - the military victory is just a siman in chitzoniyus to what we reclaimed in pnimiyus. The kinyan of Eretz Yisrael itself, if appreciated properly, can strengthen our avodah and speed up the process, but the battle is far from over. Just walking down the streets of NY (just living in NY instead of Yerushalayim!) should give anyone with eyes in their head a sense of the chilul kedusha that we live with daily. That’s what we shed tears over tomorrow, and beg for a nechama from, b’meheira b’yameinu.