It is naïve to pretend that our troubles are over, but when the holy day of T’U b’Av - the fifteenth of the month of Av - arrives, along with the next Sabbath known as Shabbos Nachamu, when verses of consolation are read, who can say that he doesn’t breathe easier, knowing that we have passed through incredible trials and that G-d Himself is giving us consolation?
T’U b’Av is a particularly amazing day. “The spirit of festivity in which Israel celebrated the fifteenth of Av was rooted in their joy at having achieved forgiveness for the sin of the spies. In this sense, it is similar in character to Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur, G-d became reconciled to Israel after the sin of the golden calf. It was on Yom Kippur that Moses came down from the mountain with the second tablets after the first tablets had been broken…. In early generations, there were no greater days of celebration than on these days when G-d forgave Israel her sins, Yom Kippur and the Fifteenth of Av!” (Book of Our Heritage, Pages 1025-26)
These events took place millennia ago, but we still remember them as if they took place today, because “In His goodness, G-d renews daily, perpetually, the work of creation” (Morning liturgy). Or, to put it another way “Ma’ase avos siman l’banim” - The events of yesterday guide us through the events of today (Ramban on Genesis 12:6).
Recently, in these columns, I mentioned a personal matter. About three months ago, I underwent surgery. Thank G-d, I am getting stronger, but the first few weeks were difficult. I could not leave the house for several weeks. I have no complaint! I know from personal experience that everything – including pain – is a blessing from heaven. But sometimes it’s not easy.
A few weeks after the surgery, my wife and I decided that it was time to get out of the house. Our children had invited us for the Sabbath. It refreshed my soul to see trees and sky. We arrived at our children’s home late Thursday evening. Friday morning, after prayers, I was very tired and I told my wife that I needed to rest. So I lay down for a nap.
I had a dream.
I was in the Holy Temple! The priests had a large, wooden press with a long handle, and they were squeezing fruits. The juice was flowing like a fountain into a large vessel. The droplets of fruit and the beautiful aroma filled the air. The priests were moving the handle of the press up and down, up and down, and as they squeezed the fruit, they were saying, over and over, “Pri Etz Hadar…. Pri Etz Hadar … Fruit of the Beautiful Tree.”
And I awoke!
My first thought: all the suffering was worth it just for this dream!
My children told me that I should look for a source for what I saw in this dream, and I found that the sages tell us that, if you see an esrog (citron) in your dream, it is a good sign (Berachos 57a). Now, I did not specifically see an esrog. However, the Talmud goes on to say why the esrog is a good sign, namely because it is referred to as “pri etz hadar … fruit of a beautiful tree,’” and this I found amazing, because those are the exact words the priests were saying in the dream! The Talmud goes on to say (57b), “All types of fruits are favorable signs in a dream, except for unripe dates.”
This dream made me acutely aware that every aspect of our lives comes to us directly from G-d. There are no accidents and no mistakes. G-d is orchestrating for us the most beautiful symphony. Sometimes we are tempted to think that we know better than He how to compose the symphony, but that would be such a mistake, along the lines of the mistake Adam and Eve made in the Garden of Eden! G-d is infinitely more aware than we are of all the notes needed in this symphony. The greatest salvation follows the greatest tests. We know that from the life of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, who endured many trials. Their children, the Jewish People, can then follow in their footsteps and deal with those tests because they led the way.
Every one of us has endured tests in our lives. If we look back, we will see how necessary they were for us, how we needed them in order to get where we need to go.
The Jewish People has just passed through Tisha b’Av. We have lived the destruction. We have passed through thousands of years of trials and tribulations. We are now continuing to experience, throughout the world, in our own days, terrible tests and challenges on every level. People are suffering in every conceivable way, mentally, physically, and emotionally. The entire world is encircling us, vowing to rid themselves of this great plague called the Jewish People! As King David says, “All the nations surround me!” (Psalm 118).
My friends, just as on T’U b’Av the Jews in the desert woke up in their graves and found that they were still alive, so - some day soon with G-d’s help - we are all going to wake up to find that we are living in a renewed world, a world of purity and sanity, eternal hope, justice and peace, a world in which we can always be close to the Master of the Universe! Someday soon, we are going to wake up in the world of the Messiah. The air will be filled with a delicious aroma; the music of the Levites will soothe our ears; the sacrifices will bring redemption, and a great light, emanating from the Holy Temple, will fill the entire world.
It’s not a dream, my friends. This is reality. “When G-d will return the captivity of Zion, we will be like dreamers” (Psalm 126). May we see it soon in our days!