Happy and Sad – Shabbat Chazon / Parshat Devarim

During a recent Shiur about Tisha BeAv, I mentioned the (very Chasidic) idea “To be happy in the sadness of Tisha BeAv ”. 

The listeners were not very impressed, and some have asked for further explanation. I said that it took me many years to deeply understand that refraining from (some sorts of) Simcha during the first days of the month of Av, culminating on Tisha B’Av itself, is not just a “technical obligation”.  Rather, it is a day in which many tragedies have occurred: The destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash, the Inquisition of the Catholic Church 1492 when all Jews who had not converted were expelled from Spain and 4 years later from Portugal, World War I started on Tisha BeAv and several other calamities.

When we began to feel (some) emotional pain at this time of the year, we knew that our inner contact with Hashem had become stronger. And this in turn, causes us “happiness in the sorrow”. 

Perhaps it is easier to understand in the context of having sympathy for a friend who has suffered a loss. When you feel (real) sorrow for a friend who has just suffered a personal or material loss – you know that you are a true friend of that person. This, in itself, can give you satisfaction, or “happiness”. 

Some participants of the Shiur were still reluctant to “mix” עצבות, sadness with שמחה, joy.

On the eve of Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbat before Tisha beAv, when we begin to read the Book of Devarim, let us reflect on this.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld