they were hugging each other!

Friday, 12 August, 2016 - 6:47 am


Dear Friends,

The Temple was destroyed, blood flowed like water in the streets, the Jewish People and its G-d were disparaged and disgraced. Clearly, it was a period of the most extreme “Hester Panim” – Hashem hiding His face from the Jewish People. But it was precisely then, at that most difficult moment, that something truly wonderful and special – even strange – happened.

A bit of an introduction:

Attached to the cover of the Holy Ark, in which the two Tablets resided, were “Keruvim” – two cherub-like, baby-faced figures made of gold. In tractate Bava Batra, Rabbi Yochanan and Rabbi Elazar debate whether the Keruvim faced each other, or not. Did they look at each other, or did they turn their faces away from each other? The Gemara determines that the direction of the Keruvim varied according to the Jews’ behavior. When the Jews were doing G-d’s will, the Keruvim would be facing each other; when they were not doing G-d’s will, they would turn away from each other.

Well, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, a moment before the Temple was burnt down, when the blood of the massacred priests was still boiling on the floor of the Temple, when the enemy soldiers were tramping around in the Holy of Holies – where only the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) could enter, and that only on Yom Kippur – and desecrating it, they saw something amazingly powerful: The Keruvim were not merely facing each other – they were hugging each other!

In other words, at the most difficult, terrible moment, the Keruvim were telling us unequivocally that not only is Hashem not angry with us, Chas VeChalilah, but He is actually feeling only love, and even giving us a warm hug.

Feeling confused? Chassidut explains this in two words, two words that are significant for our lives in general and for our relationship with the Creator in particular: Pnimiyut and Chitzoniyut (inner reality and external reality).

In the external reality we were seeing Hester Panim, Divine anger, destruction and exile.

In the inner reality there was love, hugging, building and redemption.

In the external reality we saw destruction and exile, but it was actually the beginning of a new building up towards the true and complete redemption; for when one wants to build a new building in the place of an old one, construction begins with the destruction of the old.

This year we will see this “confusion” to an extreme. On one hand, this coming Shabbat falls on Tisha B’av, the day of the destruction. But, on the other hand, it is Shabbat, and on Shabbat one may not mourn. We will sit down to our Shabbat meals wearing our Shabbat clothes, the table will be set with the usual Shabbat foods, including wine, meat and fish, because on this Tisha B’Av-Shabbat we will be focusing on the Pnimiyut – the aspect that showed us the Keruvim hugging each other.


Shabbat Shalom and Mashiach Now!


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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