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Shalom and Bracha

Tuesday, July 19th, is the seventeenth of Tammuz, which is a fast day that ushers in a three-week mourning period. When the Babylonians attacked Yerushalayim, eventually resulting in the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jewish people, the Wall of Yerushalayim was breached on the seventeenth of Tammuz. Three weeks later, on the ninth of Av, the Temple was destroyed.

Everything in Torah is a teaching and a directive both in the service of Hashem and in our private lives. When we correct the breach in the wall of Yerushalayim in our own lives, we cause Hashem to rebuild Yerushalayim. The word Yerushalayim in Hebrew is a composite of two words: Yirah, which means fear, and Shalem, which means complete. Our personal Yerushalayim represents our awe and fear of G-d. Fear of G-d is not only that the fear He can punish us. When we realize that our greatest asset is our bond with G-d, and that the strength of that bond is dependent upon keeping his commandments, we fear damaging that bond. Shame is a form of fear. When we are feel ashamed for disrespecting G-d by doing a sin, it is part of Yirah.

The Wall surrounding Yerushalayim represent the steps we take to avoid doing things against the will of Hashem. When we are afraid of something being damaged, we take steps to protect it. Our love and fear of G-d dictate that we not only carefully keep his commandments, but that we also take steps to prevent mistakes. This is the reason for most Rabbinical ordinances. Similarly, in our private lives, the wall of Yerushalayim represents the steps we take to protect our meaningful relationships. If we know an act might hurt someone we love, we prevent it at all cost. The Seventeenth of Tammuz is a time when we reexamine our fences, making sure to fortify that which is truly important.

The prophet Yeshaiah (Isaiah) related, “Zion will be redeemed through justice and her captives through charity.” Justice in this verse refers to the study of Torah. In these three weeks while we mourn the destruction of the Temple and pray fervently for it’s rebuilding, it is customary to study extra Torah and add in acts of charity. It is especially desirable to study the laws of the construction of the Temple. This year, as Israel is under siege, these directives are even more imperative in order to beseech Hashem’s protection for those who live throughout Israel, and the Jewish people throughout the entire world. The prophet describes the wall of Yerushalayim in the times of Moshiach as a wall of fire. When we serve Hashem with warmth, light and intensity it protects us from mistakes. When we lack warmth, the wall can be breached.

Interestingly, the number 17 is the equivalent of the word Tov, which means good. This is because underlying the destruction are the seeds for an even greater future. When Moshiach will come, the world will be in a higher and more perfect state than the time of the Temple. Way we merit seeing that time now!

Shalom and wishing you an easy and meaningful fast,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated in memory of Leiby Ben Nachman Kletzky. May Hashem grant perfect rest to his pure soul and give strength and comfort to his parents and all who mourn this tragedy. May Hashem free us from all tragedies and send the Geulah now!

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