Shiv’ah Asar B’Tammuz 5777

Today is Shiv’ah Asar B’Tammuz (17th of Tammuz), the day when we fast and mourn the beginning of the events culminating in the destruction of the first and second Beit Hamikdash.

Some of you may have seen my post on Facebook yesterday about what an absolutely crappy day I had. Well, I experienced a significant monetary loss. I was very upset, devastated and depressed since I was under the impression that someone else was taking care of this issue. Turns out that information that should have been forwarded to the attorney had not been, and once the money was taken, there was nothing that could be done to get it back.

I forced myself to say “All is for our own good!”, trying very hard to believe this and searching for an answer as to: “why this, and why now!” I prayed that HaShem would open my mind and my eyes as to what I had done that I needed to perform teshuvah for, what had I left undone that I needed to complete, what had I not done that needed to be done, and what was the lesson I had to learn from this? But all the time I tried very hard to cling to “All is for our own good!”.

I spent extra time on Minchah; concentrating on every word and it’s meaning looking and asking for answers. After completing Minchah, I saw a story of a Chassid who had been trapped under the aron kodesh when he attempted to keep it from falling over (to protect the Sefer Torahs within). The aron weighed around 3000 pounds, and it took the fire department to extricate him, but he emerged unscathed because, when the aron fell, it fell with the doors open and he was safely ensconced in the space with the Torah Scrolls.

So, here was the first part of the answer! No matter how bad it looks, G-d does not abandon his people and keeps them safe when they cling to the Torah. This did make me feel a bit better. But still, the question “why this and why now?” continued to nag at me.

I now had some comfort, but still, the answers were not forthcoming. So, I did what I usually do. I listened to lectures by various rabbonim hoping that some clarity would come.

Just before Maariv I saw one of the rabbonim that I very much enjoy listening to was broadcasting live, and whenever I see him broadcasting, I always tune it. The talk was very interesting, but it wasn’t until he told a very simple story about a janitor cleaning an office (more of a joke with a lesson attached) that a light clicked on in my head!

Wow, part two of the answer! Part one: G-d will keep those safe who cling to the Torah. Part two: Teshuvah requires work and do no sleep (become complacent) regarding your obligations to HaShem.

How many more pieces would I need to complete this puzzle?

As the evening progressed, I began thinking that this was Shiv’ah Asar B’Tammuz, and that I needed to prepare for the fast. I began reading the halachah and historical background of the day, and what would be the final outcome of the historical events. Again, the light clicked on!

Look at what our people were going through during the three weeks, imagine the fear, the terror, and finally, the truly devastating loss they would experience! What was the loss of a few thousand dollars compared to THIS? The loss that I experienced was nothing compared to this, is the answer! Why should I feel so devastated? My company has receivables coming in and most of the bills are paid, the grace period on the rest would get me through and there is a bit of cash here in the house. Putting things in perspective and looking at my problems compared to those of our people during Shiv’ah Asar B’Tammuz, what I was going through was nothing more than a minor inconvenience. I immediately started to feel better because our people survived and I knew I too would survive!

So, here is the lessons that I derived from my experience:

1. G-d will keep those safe who cling to the Torah.

2. Teshuvah requires work and we must be constantly reminded not to fall asleep (become complacent) regarding our obligations to HaShem.

3. What we experience that look like devastating events regarding our material possessions of this corporeal world, in the context of our history, is in fact, only minor inconveniences and temporary setbacks.

4. What we gain in this corporeal existence is fleeting and can be taken from us in the blink of an eye. What HaShem has given us; a Torah of truth, emunah and the ability for devekut can never be taken away, even in the deepest pit of despair.

5. Everything that happens to us is truly “All for our own good!” The answer, or answers, may not be immediately apparent to us or easily realized, and it may require us to search inside and outside of ourselves to find them. The reasons, answers and lessons are there, just waiting for us to find them; like diamonds hidden in a mountain of coals. It takes work, but in the end, the gains far outweigh the losses.

This fast of Shiv’ah Asar B’Tammuz will be far more meaningful to me than any of the past. B”H!

An easy fast to all!

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