Weekly Hashkafa Shiur #102 - The Worst Tisha BAv in Recent Times

Date: Aug 2, 2022



Dedication

This shiur should be for the merit, health, and success of the family of Regina Bas Yosef Reuven and Yeshaya ben Yisrael.


Introduction: A True Accounting

This week is the “nine days” and it’s appropriate to talk about the this, especially Shabbos—though the fast is put off until Sunday as it’s nidche—postponed due to the prohibition to fast on Shabbos. Tisha b’Av in many ways illustrates a great deal about our situation, today and previously, a chorbon—tragedy.


One of the aspects we have to deal with is the concept of the relevance of the chorbon. It’s hard to commemorate something that happened over 2,000 years ago—70 CE—because we ask ourselves: we didn’t cause the destruction of the Beis Ha’Mikdash--Temple so what are we really mourning? It’s appropriate to mourn because we lost it but we, certainly, haven’t caused that loss so we would think that maybe the mourning is just due to having suffered tremendous loss. It’s hard to imagine what the Beis Ha’Mikdash meant to the Jewish people at that time. We don’t have anything to compare to that type of phenomenon, where you actually have such a temple and all the miracles that were going on at that point in time.


One constant miracle, for example, was that the smoke on the altar never deviated from going upward in a perfect vertical no matter what the weather. You could have a 7-degree hurricane going through Jerusalem and the column of smoke from the korbonos--sacrifices went up in a perfect vertical. The ashes of the korbonos were completely absorbed into the tiles. Obviously, the greatest thing was that, if you were in the temple area, you could actually feel the shechina—Divine Presence. Being there was a way of getting in contact with the shechina, to feel the tremendous holiness of the place. One of the miracles that took place was the thousands of animal and bird sacrifices, animals constantly being burnt and consumed, especially the meat—there must have been, we presume, an enormous number of flies. This was not an indoor butcher shop. This was an outdoor one, with an exorbitant number of animal sacrifices but there were no flies to be seen whatsoever in the entire area. Can you imagine all that meat and blood, all the organs fully exposed to the sun and the weather but not one fly to be found at all? It’s a nes—miracle.


Clearly, there were miracles that took place there. That is a phenomenon that doesn’t exist today, seeing miracles, experiencing the Divine Presence. Is this what we mourn? That would make sense because we mourn even if it’s hard to relate to such phenomena. The destruction of it meant, ultimately, the removal of the Divine Presence. Around that time, prophecy ceased. Imagine the greatest spiritual phenomenon ever known, to be a navi—a prophet—gone. The concept of “prophecy” wasn’t to know the future; it was to know the secrets of the Ribono Shel Olam—Master of the Universe. While you were knowing these ideas, you would experience an overwhelming measure of kedusha—holiness. In fact, you would be davek—attached, connected, to the Divine Presence itself. There was a tremendous feeling of dveikut—attachment to G-D; that ceased. When the shechina left, it meant that any phenomenon of attachment—part of the prophetic process—was gone.


Certainly, that would have translated into grief that the Jews experienced.

Imagine that, three times a year during Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkoth, millions of people made pilgrimages to the Beis Ha’Mikdash, coming into a city where millions are celebrating these pilgrimages! Imagine the “high” that was being experienced by the entire society, experiencing, together, an unbelievable amassing of those seeking and experiencing such holiness! This, too, is part of what we miss. You have to remember that many millions of Jews converging on the Beis Ha’Mikdash means that it was a source of unity.


So, what are we looking at? We’re looking at: one, the loss of the miracles one could witness there and, two, the Presence of G-D, a presence you could feel if you went to the Beis Ha’Mikdash was also gone. The third loss is that of prophecy, the greatest spiritual experience a person can ever achieve in this world. Fourth, the unity of the Jewish people celebrating en masse, in Jerusalem, the regalim--pilgrimage festivals, and which was a mitzvah, was gone too. It was a mitzvah for every male to go up to the temple to offer sacrifices.


Imagine the collective exhilaration of a city immersed in the celebration of these three major holidays! The sacrifices offered the Jew the ability to seek atonement. That’s what the korbonos were all about, to seek atonement for some of the major sins for which there’s an obligation to atone such as, for example, kares—extinction, meaning death before the age of 60. This gave a Jew the chance to seek expiation of sin and also to bring shlamim to celebrate and give thanks to G-D for things like health, wealth, success, and so on. This was all gone.


Perhaps we can begin to imagine why Jews would be so grief-stricken by this destruction. But, it’s still hard to relate to that. We can wonder if these are the truest accountings of the relevance of that tragedy. It’s one thing to have lived then and known the destruction experientially but we’ve never experienced any of this so we can wonder as to the relevance of the destruction of the Beis Ha’Mikdash beyond even these I’ve described here.


Other Accountings

There’s an idea from the Gemara, in “Yerushalmi,” about the destruction and its incredible relevance to us. What is it? There’s a gemara that says that any generation for which the Beis Ha’Mikdash wasn’t rebuilt in its day, is one for which it’s as if it’s destroyed in its day. That’s what this gemara says. That’s an incredible statement. Therefore, if Tisha b’Av comes and the Holy Temple is not built, it doesn’t just mean it’s not there; it means that the reason it’s not built is that it’s been decreed to be destroyed! If it’s destroyed and doesn’t exist, then it cannot be built! That’s the equivalent gezeira—decree.


What this really means is that, in the nine days, there are dinim—judgements and one of the things upon which the Jews are judged is their worthiness to have it rebuilt. Yes! That goes on every year because G-D really wants it rebuilt so He can be close to His “children,” the Jewish people.


So, every nine days of every year, there’s a stupendous judgment in heaven as to whether or not the Jews of that generation deserve to have the Beis Ha’Mikdash rebuilt. If there’s a judgement, there’s a verdict. If the verdict is that they don’t deserve to have it rebuilt because they’ve sinned greatly, the generation doesn’t deserve to have it. This is equivalent to its being destroyed. In other words, its continued non-existence is equivalent to its continual destruction due to the lack of the nation’s worthiness to have it re-built.


This is what happened in 70 CE. It was destroyed because they didn’t deserve it. What of our generation, now? The decree is the same. If it were extant, it would be destroyed due to our unworthiness; our sins are too numerous. Since it doesn’t exist, then the decree tells us that, were it to exist, it would be destroyed, therefore it cannot be rebuilt; this is an incredible idea.


Culpability

Its destruction in 70 CE was due, actually, to sinas chinam--baseless hatred. The Jews have suffered from this for thousands of years. This has been one of the great disabilities of the Jews, the inability to rise above jealousy, hatred, and, according to the Chofetz Chaim and the Maharsha, the loshon ha’ra—disparaging, evil speech which instigates these jealousies and hatreds. There is a great deal of such speech and both these sages say that such is why the Temple was destroyed.


We destroy it also, so it cannot be rebuilt. That’s the verdict. We destroy it due to sinas chinam. We don’t realize how much there is of it. There are many streams of Judaism, legitimate streams—not the phenomena of intermarriage, lack of affiliation, assimilation, lack of religiosity—and each suffers from arrogance that prompts one group to have disdain and hatred for the others. Because of this baseless hatred, the Temple is destroyed in the form of not being re-built. There you are! That’s the real relevance of its absence; we caused it. What we continue to do is equivalent to what they did.


We all have a share in the fact that it doesn’t exist today. This is the first concept.

Another important and interesting thing is that, once the shechina leaves, which it did, permission is granted to the goyim—the Babylonians in the case of the First Temple, the Romans in the case of the Second Temple—to destroy it. They could not destroy it unless the Divine Presence absented itself which signals to the perpetrators, allows them, to destroy it.


Where Did the Shechina—Divine Presence Go?

We can ask: where does G-D go? What does it mean that “His Divine Presence leaves”? G-D fills the universe so what does it mean when we’re told His Presence is gone? In certain select places, G-D allows His Presence to be felt, experienced. What we can experience of it, in that place, is gone. It’s as if G-D “left” even though we know that He fills the entire Creation.


In parashas—Torah portion “Devarim,” at the end, it says “v’shev Ha’Shem es shvuscha”—and G-D will return your captivity. Rashi points out that, really, it ought to say, instead, “v’heshev Ha’Shem es shvuscha…”—G-D will ‘turn-around’ your captivity,” meaning that He will bring you back. The verb should be “v’heshev”—to cause to return or overturn your captivity. But that’s not what it says. This choice of verb implies that “G-D will return with your captivity.” From this, we learn about a very important phenomenon—where G-D went.


When the Beis Ha’Mikdash was destroyed, it was “shechinta b’galusa—the Divine Presence is in galus—exile. What does that mean? G-D is omnipotent; you can’t place Him where you want Him to be! You can’t compel Him. G-D, voluntarily, allowed Himself to be “captured.” It’s called the “klippah,” the satanic forces, which are permitted to be yonek—nourished from the Divine Presence itself, from those sparks of holiness. The Satan, and the forces he presides over, derive enormous power. This is what “shechinta b’galusa” really means.


This exile means that you are not in a position to exert your full potential, not in a position to be independent but, on the contrary, to be compelled and dependent on another being or force. That’s where the shechina went, to be a captive of Satanic forces that can take advantage of that Divine energy and do terrible things to the Jewish people.


Why would G-D do that? As I’ve spoken about previously in several lectures, the Satan was given, by G-D, a self-interest. He’s motivated to act in order to acquire the Divine energy he needs to survive, the energy of the Divine Presence. when G-D allows him to take from the Divine Presence, that, apparently, satisfies him so he doesn’t claim that the Jews deserve to be destroyed. He’s too busy nourishing himself off the Divine Presence’s holy energy. So, G-D allows Himself to be a captive in order to motivate the Satan to minimize his kitrugim—prosecutions due to his comfortable condition, his ability to flourish, not simply survive. That’s what he wants most, really; he wants the Divine energy. He, therefore, diminishes his kitrugim which allows the Jews to survive. That’s what the shechina goes into the galus to accomplish, Jewish survival.


That’s where He is and we now understand the verse I’ve quoted many times which says, “Even if your exiles are”—where?—”at the ends of heaven,” then “misham yekabetzcha”—from there, I will gather you. G-D will go to the “ends of heaven,” meaning the exile, to take the Jews out. We are at the “ends of heaven.”


We will now understand something much more profound. Why will He “go into the exile”? –because that is where He is. The real concept to grasp is that He will take the Jews “to Himself” by taking them out of the exile from within it! He is there with you so, obviously, He can gather you there from among the nations of the world because that’s exactly where He is too. It’s a unique understanding. That pasuk—verse is an allusion to His being together with the Jews in exile except that the “exile” of G-D is different than the exile of the Jews. But, in both instances, both cases, G-D, in a certain sense, is “unable” to do certain things because the mechanism He created allows the Satan to feed off the Divine Presence for the purpose of Jewish preservation. G-D secludes Himself, voluntarily restricts Himself, from doing things He could certainly do as an omnipotent being.


You’re looking at G-D practicing self-restriction, a tremendous restriction on His potential. That’s exactly what happens to the Jews, what’s done to them; restrictions are applied to their potential. The Jew cannot be what he really is. That’s the concept of galus—exile. It’s not simply geographical, of having to move away from your home. It’s the inability to completely realize your potential. You’re trapped, restricted, almost like being a prisoner. This is the condition of both G-D and the Jewish people. That’s what the concept of “exile” really is. Both the shechina and the Jews go through this deprivation and restriction. “Exile” is the idea of a being restricting his own capability to do what he can do and be what he can be. So, “gathering you” is really an allusion to the fact that G-D is with you at the “ends of heaven.”


G-D exiles Himself from the Divine Presence so it’s worthwhile considering from where He exiled Himself. At first, where was the Beis Ha’Mikdash? The first one was the mishkan—tabernacle. From the mishkan, G-D went to the First Temple during the time of Shlomo Ha’Melech—King Solomon. That’s the second time He is among the Jews but that was destroyed. From there, He moves and waits for the Second Temple at the time of Ezra. All these are “exile phases” of the shechina.


Where is G-D now? We don’t have the First Temple of Solomon or the Second of Ezra so where is He? There must be a place where He is. Where G-D is now is at the Kotel Ha’Ma’aravi, the Western Wall, or the “Wailing Wall.” It’s interesting that G-D moved from the kodesh ha’doshim—holy of holies in the middle of which was the Even Ha’Shesia—Foundation Stone from which G-D created the universe. He moved from the holy of holies where the present-day mosque is, to the outer extremity, outer boundary of the Temple Mount where the temples used to be.


If you ask yourself: where is the shechina today, it’s in galu—exile, and the indicator is that it’s at the Kotel, the outer boundary of the Second Temple. The Kotel is what we can term the “makom ha’mikdash”—place of holy residence. Even on a minimum spiritual level, you can feel a presence there, right? People say that, when they go to the Kotel, they feel something; there’s something there that’s different. The Ribono Shel Olam, as I mentioned long ago, will return with the Third Temple and I’ve mentioned what that is.


The Third, and Final, Temple

Just as there’s a Jerusalem l’ma’ala--above, in Olam Yetzira—World of Formation which corresponds to the Jerusalem below, there’s a Beis Ha’Mikdash l’ma’ala parallel to the one in this world. That world is the residence of the angels. There’s also a Second Temple in that world to parallel the Second Temple l’mata—below. When G-D rebuilds the Third Temple, it will not be the same as the second or the first, or even the mishkan. G-D will “bring down” that Beis Ha’Mikdash in heaven and physicalize it. It will descend, which is awesome! Why?—because G-D, to an unbelievable degree of holiness, resides in the Beis Ha’Mikdash in heaven. When it descends, G-D and His degree of, almost “Ein Sof”—infinity will descend with it. Therefore, we will experience that degree of G-D’s presence here, below, as it is above. That’s the messianic Beis Ha’Mikdash, the one of Olam Yetzira. The amount of enlightenment, of illumination of consciousness, will be awesome. That is what is meant by “the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-D.”


What knowledge is that? It’s not the knowledge that we glean here or even at the level of prophecy when prophecy existed. It will be knowledge of G-D as He manifests Himself in Olam Yetzira. That is the ohr mashiach—messianic Light, also known as the “ohr rishon”—First Light. This helps us understand what the messianic Light is; it’s the Divine Presence of the Beis Ha’Mikdash above that materializes here. That Presence is so overwhelming that it spills out upon the entire planet as messianic Light.


The enlightenment regarding Torah that will be among the Jewish people will be beyond belief. As I’ve said often, paraphrasing a midrash: the entire Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu which is everything we know and have—the Talmud “Bavli,” and “Yerushalmi,” “Sifros,” “Sifrei,” all the midrashim, the responsa, everything, will be hevel—nothing more than air, without substance, zero, compared to the Torah of the mashiach. That is the “earth being filled with the knowledge of G-D as the waters cover the seabed.” We have no inkling what that refers to, what it suggests.


Then it goes on to say that the Torah of the mashiach is insubstantial compared to the Torah of Olam Ha’Ba—Future World! This is attributable to the change of “being” that occurs. The messianic era is the equivalent of the world of Adam Ha’Rishon—the first man before the sin, primordial man. That is what we return to during the messianic era, having a measure of Divine Presence in a state, specifically, when there’s no more zohama—spiritual pollution of the Satan impeding, reducing the extent to which we can experience the Divine Presence. That pollution that envelops and pervades the physical universe will be gone. That’s the messianic era as it was before the sin of Adam.


The nature of our “being” will be greater still in the Future World. It is the greatest degree of “being” of all. It’s the perfect “zuloso”—‘other,’ a neshamasoul. In the “world” of the neshama where the Torah will be known is the “knowledge of G-D” commensurate with the greatness of a being that has no geshem—physicality, no substantial materiality. Certainly, there’s no Satan; he’s long gone, destroyed. The soul is not even spiritual because the neshama, at that level, is far greater in its “being” than the angels. The RaMCHaL does say that there’s a presence of physicality but it’s not the same as that which we are familiar with. Physicality, as we know it, will be almost completely butel—cancelled, nullified, negated as to the neshama. The amount of consciousness is something we cannot begin to imagine because it will be experienced by the neshama itself.


The Future Redemption will all happen and it’s staggering.



Affecting the Presence of G-D

We can affect the presence of G-D—and it was affected—affect how we can experience it. Regarding “Sin of the Golden Calf” which happened after the redemption from Egypt, there’s a pasuk—verse that says, “v’asu li mikdash v’shochanti b’socham”—they will build Me a temple and I will dwell in their midst, meaning, in the midst of the neshamas of the Jewish people. In other words, G-D enters Creation through the neshama. It’s a portal of the Divine Presence. Not only does He enter the world this way, but we experience G-D this way, internally. We weren’t meant to go to a Beis Ha’Mikdash at all, really. We could just close our eyes, sit down, and think. Suddenly, we actually feel the Presence of G-D, which is, basically, what a navi—prophet would feel. This experience was intended for all Jews, G-D entering Creation through the neshama of each Jew and experiencing that.


It was only due to the Sin of the Golden Calf that G-D said: no. I am now going to remove Myself. But he didn’t remove Himself from entering Creation; that still exists, but if you want to experience G-D, even though He enters through your soul, you need to go outside yourself to a Beis Ha’Mikdash. That was not the original intent, that the Beis Ha’Mikdash or the mishkan or whatever be a place that you need to go to experience Him. The entry of G-D was through the neshama, but the experience required the Beis Ha’Mikdash.


The Beis Ha’Mikdash’s original purpose was to function as a place where Jews could gather together and experience the joy of the pilgrimage holidays. It was a place to experience unity, not to experience G-D. Experiencing G-D was meant to occur within each Jew, personally. The Temple became, not only a place to celebrate in unity, but also to experience G-D, which is a tremendous difference.


We now understand many things about Tisha b’Av, the loss we caused. We understand a central idea of exile. It’s not about being removed from our place, to be no longer in Israel. We are removed from our potential; we’re blocked and restricted. That’s the real exile, the “exile of the self” from where it could be. That’s also where G-D is; G-D has exiled Himself, does not reveal Himself and allows the Satan to “capture” Him and take from a tremendous amount of holiness which would have given us the wherewithal to realize our potential.


The Gemara even says that there were eighty talmidim—students of Hillel, many of whom were so great that they could have experienced Divine revelation like Moshe Rabbeinu or stopped the sun like Yehoshua ben Nun did in time of war. Then, why couldn’t they? They were blocked because the Jews are in exile, meaning they cannot be what they can be.


It’s like the ads the U.S. army used to recruit new people which urged “Be all you can be!”

When the Jews are redeemed, they will be all they can be without restrictions, without blockages. The U.S. army took on the understanding of exactly what the exile really is when you cannot be what you can be. Today, we are in terrible moral decay, terrible Darkness. It’s even hard to believe the extent of it. This tells us something interesting. People ask me, “What is our avodah—Divine service?” With so much Darkness and klippah, “What are we supposed to do?”


There’s a phrase, “Tzur m’ra v’ase tov”—turn from evil and do good. These are two things upon which to focus. Turn away from evil means to disallow the zohama—spiritual defilement, the satanic forces, from influencing you, compelling you to focus on acquiring power, pleasure, furthering illusions that perpetuate self-aggrandizement, fame; these are all illusory, so turn away from them. On the contrary, strive for spirituality, righteousness, holiness.


Today, right before mashiach comes, the zohama—satanic defilement is acutely intensified, as we see. The evil is beyond belief, the extent of the rebellion against G-D, the anti-Semitism, the immorality, the decay and depravity, the greed, the evil that is perpetrated upon mankind by mankind. It’s hard to believe that mankind has descended to the level of animals. This all happens, obviously, at the End. As I’ve mentioned in previous shiurim, justice must be satisfied.


There’s an interesting phenomenon that we find in many lectures given today. When you’d go into a Jewish bookstore, it used to be that the major section was the “Torah” section, the “Jewish” section where the seforim—books were. Today, you walk in and the table in the front displays books whose content is comprised mostly, or all, of stories. It appears as though there are no more ideas about Torah to learn from. They sell stories that try to inspire you with one story after another. In fact, most speakers today tell stories.


Whatever happened to “concepts” of Judaism, the hashkafa—existential philosophy, ideas in depth about how G-D runs the world? You don’t see that anymore; basically, you have stories. The question is: why? Why has the focus of Jewish literature changed so that, in trying to change people, to help them become more righteous, they’re using stories, narrative? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not diminishing the power of story-telling but there are books that are only comprised of stories. The whole book is a storybook and it’s astounding to realize that the overwhelming number of books in the front of the store are, as I say, stories. What’s happened to Jewish thought, the ability to grapple with concepts, books that presented concepts, the type of books which used to be prevalent in the olden days?


The answer is interesting; since the avodah, the main work, the main task, today is: don’t fall into the hands of the Satan, it’s not about becoming more and more righteous. That’s true in a generation that is not exposed to as much Darkness, as much evil. It’s much easier for them to preserve themselves with righteousness and, therefore, take to the concepts of hashkafa. But, in a generation living with the intensification of zohama, its depravity, the major avodah isn’t “ase tov”—do good; it’s “tzur m’ra”—turn from evil. Do anything you can to survive. It’s like someone who fell into a pool and can’t swim and whose concern isn’t about swimming—because he can’t—but, instead, not drowning. He holds onto a life raft to avoid drowning. It’s that “tzur m’ra” struggle. Just don’t drown!


What’s effective under such conditions is the telling of stories because they inspire. When you read stories about G-D’s interventions in the doings of mankind, stories about tzaddikim—righteous individuals and how they conducted themselves, you feel stirred and inspired to avoid evil. Even if the stories are not about Torah itself not about the practice of mitzvos, the practice of becoming righteous, holy. A generation like ours has to turn its focus, not to hashkafa, not to the depths of Judaic ideas—no! It has to have stories to inspire people to refrain from doing evil and trying to remain righteous. This rationale, at least for me, answers the question as to why so much of the literature coming out today are meisim—tales, anecdotes about tzaddikim, about people and their interactions with G-D, or hashgacha pratis—Divine intervention, or siyta dishmaya—heavenly assistance.


If you want to mourn Tisha b’Av, you could mourn this: we are in a terrible situation. We are in an incredible Darkness, subject to intense satanic forces. Wherever you turn, you see unbelievable depravity and immorality. You can hardly believe what the world has become. It’s almost insane, irrational, what the world is turning into. That is the End.


So, what Tisha b’Av is to us is terrible. It’s no longer about: I’m not learning Torah enough, not mastering the Oral Law or SHAS or “Shulchan Aruch.” I’m not mastering scholarship; that used to be the main goal. The main goal today is: don’t drown! Don’t fall into the evil and be influenced by this abominably evil culture that abounds in America, in Israel, in Europe. Tisha b’Av is no longer just: well, I’m not so holy and righteous, not a talmid chacham as I’d like to be—no, no no! Forget about that! You have to thank G-D that you’re not as evil as the generation, be grateful that you daven--pray every day, that you have kids that you send to yeshiva, that you try to avoid the (worst of the) internet, avoid the wasted time. That’s our Tisha b’Av today. The Tisha b’Av of the old days was much greater, or wasn’t as bad as today. That Tisha b’Av was when a person would ask himself: why am I not a scholar? Why am I not a talmid chacham? The Divine Presence is gone today and it’s not just that it’s gone. It’s that the world is saturated with satanic forces, satanic influence; it’s so much worse! It’s the absence of the Divine Presence! That’s something to think about. Previous generations bemoaned the fact that they weren’t greater in kedusha—holiness. We thank G-D that we’re not as evil as everybody else. We’re not as depraved, immoral, or ruthless, or whatever. That’s our Tisha b’Av. We have to thank G-D we don’t drown!


We need inspiration so G-D has altered the mindset of many Jews who lecture so that they, instead, tell stories and now you understand why. The work, now, is to avoid contamination. We are now in the avodah of “tzur m’ra.” For those lucky enough who excel in Torah scholarship, that’s tremendous! Thank G-D for that!


Most Jews are gone to assimilation, intermarriage, lack of affiliation. There are so many Jews that don’t even know they’re Jews. A person may know he’s a Jew but lacks any connection to it whatsoever. There are millions like this. I mentioned that study done in London that estimates the existence of 15.1 million Jews in the world but only 2.1 are hareidi in the sense that they’re totally observant. That means that 13 million are gone.


This climate of evil pervading the planet is that of the generation that was involved in “prikas ohl”—overthrowing the yoke. We are the generation equivalent to that of the dor ha’midbar, that generation that wanted to war with G-D, overthrow G-D, supplant G-D. In other words, it’s a society that says to themselves: well, what we deem to be moral is what counts. We want to do whatever we want. G-D’s not the boss! They felt tremendous enmity toward G-D, so much so that that generation of the Tower of Babel built a tower indicative of their desire to overthrow G-D.


Guess what! We are at the exact same point. Mankind wants to overthrow G-D by allowing itself every perversion, every distortion, every sin it can possibly do and get away with. We are in the generation of the Tower of Babel. We await an awakening. We await what that generation got, Avraham Avinu. That was the beginning of the end.


It’s important to consider that we are not grieving in the same way they grieved hundreds of years ago. We are trying to thank G-D that we are not as evil, not as crazy, as low, as this generation.


I hope I’ve spoken about ideas worthwhile thinking about. Stay holy! Try not to sink into the quicksand where everybody else is sinking. Forget about getting out of the quicksand! Just don’t sink! Stay with G-D. At the End, the main thing is to remain on G-D’s “team.”

I’ll end with this: when the Jews committed the Sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe Rabbeinu said, “Whoever is with G-D, come to me!” He didn’t mention the sin, didn’t mention the Golden Calf, because the essential thing G-D wants is, not only our observance of mitzvos—because we all lapse, all sin, and there’s no such thing as a fully righteous person that doesn’t sin—but our devotion and loyalty. This is what the Ravad, who argues with the RaMBaM all the time, says that G-D wants you on His “team,” to be a member of His “club.” Of course, there are rules and everybody’s gonna violate some rules but the question is: to whom are you dedicated? To whom are you devoted? If you are on G-D’s team, come to me, said Moshe Rabbeinu.


That is the avodah of Rosh Ha’Shana and Yom Kippur. Whatever you do, don’t sink! Stay with G-D! In such Darkness, if you can do this, your reward will be beyond comprehension. The greater the Darkness and the greater the struggle—and in today’s generation, we struggle with enormous difficulties—the greater reward. As the Rizhiner Rebbe once said, the reward in the End of Time, if you stay with G-D, if you don’t sink beneath the quicksand, is—which is astounding—a reward greater than that which Avraham Avinu and Yitzchak received because of their obedience to G-D in the akeidas Yitzchak--binding of Yitzchak. Why? Because, as then, the enormous difficulty staying holy, being on G-D’s team, is the challenge of the day.


So, let’s hope that, certainly, motzei shvi’is—end of the (seven years) of the shmittah cycle when the Gemara says that Mashiach ben David arrives, that it will start, we’re hoping, in this motzei shmitta which is only in—what? two or three months—the beginning of the messianic process when, suddenly, there will be the beginning of an outpouring of awesome enlightenment of consciousness.


Q & A

Participant: Do you feel that the month of Tishrei is when it will start because that’s when the Yovel starts?


R’Kessin: Yeah, you know you mentioned something interesting; we don’t know when Yovel is but we know it’s the 50th year and this year was shmittah so next year is a candidate to be Yovel. In Yovel, as it says, we “call out freedom throughout the land!” when everything returns to its previous owners. That’s really what the Redemption is, when everything returns to G-D and everybody realizes his connection with G-D. So, it’s very possible that this motzei shmittah, when it ends, could be Yovel. We don’t really know for sure. Imagine if it really is! We don’t have to observe it because the majority of Jews are not in Israel, are outside Israel, but the main idea is that it could be Yovel. The end of this year, the first day of Rosh Ha’Shana, could very well be the beginning of the turnaround, the beginning of the Redemption process because we all know that this world gets more and more depraved, dark, and evil by the day—it’s astounding what’s happening! I’m hopeful that G-D will say: enough is enough! It’s an interesting idea, (the advent of) Yovel possibly being this Rosh Ha’Shana.


Participant: When you give the definition of “exile” saying how Ha’Shem restricts His potential and we’re restricted from our potential, is that the intention we’re supposed to have in (davening) “Shmonah Esrei” where it says that we pray for our own redemption from our own galus—exile that we have in our personal lives, to have that intention, that our own potentials are being restricted (and we want them removed)?


R’Kessin: Yes, what we want, though we still have to work at it, is to have the block taken away. We find ourselves, 24/7, doing what?—struggling. It’s as if moving an inch in kedusha—holiness requires an extraordinary effort. That’s never happened before. The effort to become a holy person hundreds of years ago, thousands of years ago, was much easier. Today, you could spend years moving one inch. They used to move one inch in twenty seconds!


Remember one thing, G-D doesn’t look at the amount we move; He looks at the struggle. That’s what it says in the Gemara in “Brachos,” that “lifum agra”—according to the pain is the reward. It’s the pain, the struggle that determines the reward, not the distance you’ve covered. Why not?—because there’s an enormous blockage and G-D knows that. What we pray for is that G-D should remove the blockage, the inability to be what we can be. We want to leave galus. Why?—not so we can goof off and do nothing. No! It’s not that we don’t want to work for a living because we expect everything will come with incredible blessing. Yeah, that’s nice, but the reason we want to “lose” galus is that we want the blocks removed so we can get closer to G-D. We can become holy, really holy. That what the Jewish people are, an am kodosh—holy nation. That’s what we really want. Unfortunately, many want the redemption because they have difficulties with sickness, divorce, whatever, and want to be free of suffering. What we really want is to be rid of the blockages to get closer to G-D. That the essence of what we’d love to have.


Participant: If we’re really coming up to the end of it—because we always say that t’chiat ha’meitimresurrection of the dead takes 210 years, looking at that for the year 2030 so that we have about eight-and-a-half years left—why would Ha’Shem do what He does? Even if you could see when mashiach would come—and there were many throughout history who saw, who had that prophecy (like Ya’akov Avinu)—and we are right at the End, why give us this hopelessness? It’s like a fake hope, an empty hope. We’re supposed to want Redemption to come every day, yes, but it’s really going to come tomorrow?—most likely not. Do you know what I mean?


R'Kessin: Yeah. In a certain sense, He wants to give us this to increase our bitachon—trust, our faith and trust in Him, which I once mentioned. It’s critical to have. That’s one of the merits of the Redemption. That’s why the End is so Dark and hopeless. G-D wants us to “hang in there.” That’s an incredible merit, that we have not left Him. G-D, in a certain sense, lights the way. He sends individuals who have special messages. In a generation in which everyone is hopeless, perhaps He’ll send someone to sort of invigorate everyone’s emunah—faith. He doesn’t abandon the Jewish people but, I would imagine, this despair is to keep them struggling, inclined to give up hope that there’s some type of redemption even if they don’t know exactly when. I imagine that’s why the Zohar was written, for us to know that there’s 210 years (for resurrection of the dead) to give us an authoritative sefer—book that is like a light at the end of the tunnel. G-D doesn’t want to abandon us to complete hopelessness.


Participant: Does the klippah have a hold of the sefirot, on the ten?


R’Kessin: No. They (the klippot) can only take from the lower seven, not the top three. That’s why in the days of counting the sefira, we count 49, the lowest seven of seven. The main are the ten. The “sub-sefirot” are ten but the “hold” is only on the seven of the main sefirot, and seven of the “sub-sefirot,” and that makes 49.


Participant: So, they have a hold on the lower seven but not on the top three.


R’Kessin: Yes, and the zohama can only block, occlude, that. It cannot occlude all the sefiros. The upper three are too great for the Satan to have any shlita—dominion over.


Participant: When the pekida happens, didn’t you once say that’s when the Yesod and the Malchut come together?


R’Kessin: Tiferes joins Yesod and then they both join Malchus.


Participant: Is that a sign that the klippah on those sefirot broke? They fell or diminished or whatever?


R’Kessin: Yeah. Yesod, which is Mashiach ben Yosef, joins with Malchus which is Mashiach ben David. Then Tiferes joins with both, and Tiferes is the shechina. That’s the way it works. There’s a “release” of ben Yosef, then a “release” of ben David, and then there’s, finally, the “release” of the shechina. That means that G-D leaves the klippah and He’s now free.


So, guess what? That’s why it says, “Ki m’zion teitzei torah”—from Zion issues forth the Torah. Without getting into the Torah, the configuration of all the sefiros—that’s what the Torah really is in accordance with kabbalistic meaning—is G-D leaving the klippah and going into the city of Jerusalem which will produce unbelievable consciousness of the Torah, incredible enlightenment. What does it mean “from Zion”? G-D is in Zion at the Kotel. The day that the shechina is released, G-D will leave the Kotel—it’s amazing—and go into the city of Jerusalem and produce that Torah consciousness. He’s in Zion but at the Kotel. It’s interesting to picture this: He’ll go across the plaza—the shechina, having been released—and Torah will issue forth in an unbelievable wave of Divine power. From Yerushalayim comes “dvar Ha’shem”—the word of G-D because He goes right into Jerusalem which is right next to the Old City. This is all prophetic; “the word of G-D will be in Jerusalem.” You will see the redemption, the removal of the blockages on the shechina, and that’s the geulah itself.


Participant: When the shechina leaves Tiferes, that’s the zechira?


R’Kessin: When Tiferes joins with Yesod and Malchus, that’s the zechira, right. The pekida is the release of the messiahs, and they get what’s called the “yechida of Adam Ha’Rishon”—the “crown” of primordial man, the highest part of Adam which joins ben Yosef and ben David. Then, they have incredible prophetic connection to G-D, a connection we cannot begin to imagine. Then the shechina, which is the last to “go,”—that which is holiest, is always the last to go—“goes” and galus ends with the shechina itself “rising” from the klippah, going “out,” and the Satan is finished. You can just picture it, the shechina leaving the Kotel, the galus of the shechina actually going into Jerusalem and, suddenly, the illumination and enlightenment begins from Jerusalem.


Before that, the two meshichim--messiahs have to be released. That ushers in the whole messianic transformation.


Participant: Looking forward….Thank you. I’m wondering how we can get that feeling to go all the way across the galus so that non-religious Jews want to go. The environment we live in right now, with so much inflation and people not having money to go to Israel and others who don’t want to go because of Iran and people are afraid—those are the blocks, right? There are many more kinds of blocks…If the shechina is there, isn’t there a way to get Jews to know that it’s stronger now so maybe they’ll want to go now. If we go now…


R’Kessin: There’s an enormous intensity of the blockages, the Darkness….I don’t know if you’re aware but an airplane ticket to Israel—I don’t know if you’ve checked it lately, I can hardly believe it—is, for example, that United Airlines is charging $2300-2400. How many people can afford that? The Darkness is so extreme that you, basically, cannot afford a plane ticket to Israel. Imagine that you want to take your kids, your spouse. Who’s gonna come up with $10,000 to take the family to Eretz Yisrael? The availability of some kedusha in Eretz Yisrael is not available. That’s how bad the Darkness is.


The avodah, the work, today is: don’t sink into the quicksand—don’t! Like Moshe Rabbeinu said, “Who is to G-D, come to me” without even mentioning the Sin of the Golden Calf. G-D is intensifying the blockage, the inability to be who you can be; that’s the exile. The inflation hits you hard; you can’t afford many things, can’t afford to go to Israel and, even if you got here, the cost of living is incredible—and I’m not even going into the bureaucracy, the regulations, the difficulty to even survive here (in Israel).


We know it gets worse so that’s why I’ve wanted to emphasize…Imagine the guy saying: well, I’m not a tzaddik, not a rosh yeshivaforget about that! Say, better, thank G-D I’m not sinking, not becoming a degenerate, not narcissistic or egomaniacal, not into pleasure-seeking. Thank G-D I’m not that!


This is the Tisha b’Av of the End.