3 Weeks and 9 Av:The True Peace Process

Nov 17, 2014

Mrs. Menucha Chwat
Teacher, Midreshet Rachel v’Chaya
Tamuz, 5760 / Summer 2000

“The fast of the fourth (month –Tammuz) and the fast of the fifth (Av) and the fast of the seventh (Tishrei –Tzom Gedalia) and the fast of the tenth (Tevet) shall be for the house of Yehudah happiness, joy and festivals, and you shall love truth and peace.” (Zecharia 6, 19)

It is significant that we use this optimistic pasuk to learn the command of fasting on the four fast days that mourn the Beit Hamikdash. Even as we are declaring the days as fasts, we are looking towards a future when they will be festivals. Even as we mourn the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, we are anticipating its being rebuilt. Even as the Jewish people are in a low point in our history, we are always looking ahead, towards our final redemption.

The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 18b) explains this paradox. “When there is peace, these days will be of happiness and joy, when there is no peace, they will be fasts.” The commentaries are compelled here to define “peace”. This is a halachic ruling, for when there will be peace, these fasts will be abolished. Rashi explains peace “when the idol worshippers do not have an upper hand over Israel”. Rashba describes peace “when the people of Israel dwell in the land of Israel”, Ritva adds to Rashba’s definition: When the people of Israel dwell in the land of Israel and there is a Beit Mikdash.”

Maharsha explains the pasuk as describing an internal peace. When the people of Israel truly love “truth and peace”, when there is no Sinat Chinam (meaningless hatred) then shall you stop fasting, but when there is Sinat Chinam – as in the Second Temple period, “there shall be more destruction and fasting.”

These explanations together give us an understanding of the Jewish concept of “peace”, a peace in which the Jewish people is sovereign in the land of Israel, with the Beit Hamikdash, independent of external pressures, and with a nation-wide love and peace.

May it be the will of the Ribbono shel Olam, that speedily, these fasts will become days of joy and we will know no more sorrow.

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