Monday, September 04, 2006

Zikaron Siyum year2

We just finished learning Mishnayos in Masechta Tannis, the tractate of fasting. When learning, it is important to discover the essence of a Masechta. In this regard, Masechta Taanis is somewhat of a challenge. Despite, the fact that we fast 4 times per year, the spontaneous fasting, which is discussed at length, is something that we rarely see. Rain which was once a critical source of livelihood is now seen as a mere inconvenience. At one time, the lack of rain was viewed as a crisis. As the days passed, the crisis grew more serious, the effects intensified.
In these days of Ichvesa dmeshicha, we bear witness to crisis all the time. With the invention and proliferation of new technologies, we are exposed to crisis and tragedy all around the world. We hear of natural and military crisis. Years ago, who even knew what a tsunami was? Yet somehow we have become desensitized. Our hearts have hardened.
The Rambam in Hilchos Taanis provides us with the key to understanding what Taanis is all about. Masechta Taanis teaches us what to do in the face of hardship and crisis. The key is the reaction. The halachos of Masechta Taanis teach us that we need to react. And the reaction needs to grow along with the intensification of the looming crisis. In the beginning, only the leaders fasted. As time passed, with no rain in site, the number of people required to fast increase. Then the intensity of the fasting increased both in quality and in quantity. Then other restrictions are added. In addition, the reaction must intensify depending on how close you are to the crisis. Every situation is like a stone that is thrown into the water creating concentric circles. The inner circle is the most affected: the family, then friends, then schools, then community and the greater clal. The closer you are to the center, the greater the sense of tragedy. The greater the sense of tragedy, the greater and the more intense the response needs to be. Fasting is a response to a looming famine. What is our response to the events that affect us?
Every person has some aspect of their life which needs chizuk. It might be in our relationship with Hashem. It might be in our relationships with our fellow man. But in one way or another we need to react.
We are all in the inner circles. We were all zoche to have a relationship with Nechama Liba. I met someone just last week. He was asking me questions about her. I told him of her smile, her simchas haChaim. Her bravery. And her deep desire to be an inspiration to others. As well as her efforts to protect her family even to her own disadvantage.
All he needed was to see was a picture of her charming smile to understand “just how special of a girl she was”. What we need to take from this, is the desire and the willpower to react.  In fact, the greatest zechus we can give to Nechama Liba is to react. What will be our response? The answer is an individual one. Yet if each one of us finds that place where we want to improve or accept something upon ourselves, then we have followed the sagely advice of the Rambam and we have allowed the message of Mesechta Taanis to permeate our souls. We have responded, not by becoming hardened but by using this tragedy as springboard to greater yiras shamayim. Just as Yosef, was saved from the yetzer hara by a picture of his father in his mind, as challenges confront us, all we need to do is put the image of a young girl whose smile was cemented on her face regardless of the circumstance.

As it says at the end of Masechtes Taanis, Hashem should build the Bais Hamikdash speedily in our days.
My Goal is to post at least 2x per week on Sunday and Wednesday.