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Friday, July 24

The Weekly Shtikle - Devarim / Tish'ah b'Av

A Weekly Shtikle Mazal Tov to Yisroel Meir & Miriam Shonek on the birth of a yet-to-be-named daughter, my first great niece. Mazal Tov to the ganse mishpachah.

On the occasion of the upcoming sheloshim of my sister-in-law, Batsheva Yeres, this week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Batsheva Blima bas Moshe Yosef.

Sefer Devarim is, for the most part, a summary of the events of the previous 40 years. Most of the major events are recapped throughout the sefer. This week's parsha focusses largely on the episode of the spies. After hearing the spies' grim report of Eretz Yisrael, B'nei Yisrael cried on that night (Bemidbar 14:1.) The midrash (Bemidbar 16:20) and the gemara (Sotah 35a) teach us that that night was the night of Tish'ah B'Av. HaShem said "You have wept gratuitously, I therefore shall designate this day for crying throughout the generations."

Although on a larger scale, this dooming of Tish'ah B'Av as a day for weeping may refer to all the terrible misfortunes that have befallen the Jewish people on this day, it is certainly a more specific reference to the destruction of the two Temples which happened on this day.

The connection here between the wrongdoing and the consequent punishment is greater than it may appear on the surface. It is more than just "You cried for no reason, I'll make you cry for a reason." It's not merely about the fact that they cried but the reason why they cried. The nationwide cry was a sign of acceptance of the spies' report and thus, a rejection of Eretz Yisrael an immediate and imminent reality. The destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the ensuing exile was Eretz Yisrael's rejection of us. With the episode of the spies, B'nei Yisrael showed a total lack of appreciation for the gift that HaShem wished to bestow upon us. Tish'ah B'Av was therefore designated as a day that would constantly serve as a reminder to us of what terrible consequences befall us when Eretz Yisrael is not given the respect it deserves. In these days, it should not be difficult to appreciate the importance of Eretz Yisrael and how hard we must fight to keep it. Certainly, recent world events have once again left the fate of the nation and the land hanging in the balance. May the joint efforts of all of Klal Yisroel help bring mashiach speedily and transform this month from eivel to yom tov and may we all return to artzeinu haKedoshah for the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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