Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why Do You Smile?

(Continued from Between The Confines)

Rabban Gamaliel, R. Elazar Ben Azariah, R. Jehoshua, and R. Akiva were going to Jerusalem. When they arrived at Mount Zerphim, they tore their garments; when they approached the Temple Mount and saw a fox running where the Holy of Holies used to be, they began to weep; but R. Akiva smiled.

They asked of R. Akiva, “Why do you smile?”

He replied: “It reads [Isaiah, 8.2]: ‘Witnesses, Uriyah the priest, and Zecharyahu…’ Why is Uriyah conjoined with Zecharyahu, was not the former at the first Temple and the latter at the second? It was because the passage bases the prophecy of Zecharyahu upon the prophecy of Uriyah. Uriyah said [Micha, 3.12]: ‘Therefore for your sake shall Zion be ploughed up as a field…’ Zechariah said [8.4]: ‘Again shall there sit old men and old women in the streets of Jerusalem…’ As long as the prophecy of Uriyah was not fulfilled I feared the prophecy of Zechariah will not either come to be realized, but now since I see that Uriyah's prophecy is fulfilled I am sure that Zechariah's prophecy will also be fulfilled in the near future.”

Upon hearing this, they said: “Akiva, you have condoled us, you have condoled us!”
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa(Loosely translated from the conclusion of Mesechta Maccos)

It has been another week now and the child hasn’t left his perch on the roof. He still trembles from the booming thunder, and can feel the menacing gray clouds about to unleash another barrage. The confines have gone nowhere and destruction is everywhere. He can hear the enemy’s chant – and a fox runs where the Holy of Holies once stood.

He would love to tell of how a manufacturer in the south, whose rival company in the north was forced to close its operations due to the falling rockets, extended the use of his factory to his competitor; of Ro’i Klein, a thirty-one year old commander who sacrificed his body on a grenade so that no one else would get hurt; of people giving up their homes so that misplaced families would have somewhere to stay; of a silver lining in this bleak coal; of a slice of heaven in this jagged hell.

But how can he when he turns his head and sees a good man die?

The child stands on green grass, under a tree. He is surrounded by stones, people’s names engraved on them. It is the funeral of his friend’s father and the summer sun has the chutzpah to smile. The child can hear the women sob and tears flow everywhere, even down the sides of melting water bottles.

The saddest day in the Jewish calendar has come and gone, but the sadness has not. We sit on normal chairs and wear shoes of leather, but there are those who sit on the ground and wear shoes of canvas. The Shabbat of Consolation has consoled us, but there are those still in need of consolation. The daughters of Jerusalem are dancing in the vineyards, but Jerusalem still has daughters who sit under the vines and weep.

The child sees the Rabbis weep. They weep not for themselves but for G-d’s humiliation – how can Divinity’s resting place, the Holy of Holies, the purest place on earth where no man can enter save for the High Priest on Yom Kippur, be defiled so?

And the child weeps. He weeps not for himself but for G-d’s humiliation – how can His children, imbued with His spark, created in His image, fade like yesterdays?

The child sees R. Akiva smile. He smiles for he sees not pain but pleasure. He smiles for he sees not tears but laughter. He smiles for he sees not destruction but rebuilding. He smiles for he sees not exile but redemption.

The child tries to smile, but it’s so hard.


Blogger the sabra said...

woah im covered in chills, my body is nearly shaking.
i hate this golus and my you've really captured it well.

it weirds me out to think that hashem is suffering just as much or even more than we are. why doesnt He do something already???

ahh silly child, you are too short to see what is going on on the other side of the wall...

may we experience the coming of moshiach tonight!

8/08/2006 9:18 PM  
Blogger the sabra said...

(v'ani mahzeh b'shock sh'samta li b'blogroll shelcha..todah!)

8/08/2006 9:25 PM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

it's an intresting perspective, that the reason the rabbis cried when they saw the fox on the Har Ha'Bayis was not for the destruction itself, but rather for G-d's humiliation. it's not my chidush, but the rebbe's(lekkutei sichos, chelek 19 p. 67). very suggested reading.

(ani mkave sh'ha'shock sh'lach lo mashehu katastrofi ;)

8/09/2006 12:36 PM  
Blogger anonym00kie said...

so rabbi akiva consoled them by reminding them that hashem wont be humilated anymore (and not becasue the temple will be rebuilt)?

beautiful piece once again, you really have a talent for writing that penetrates the heart

8/09/2006 3:09 PM  
Blogger FrumGirl said...

Har Habayis is not ours now... one example of how it is lost to us... we are not allowed to plant trees there and ofcourse "they" planted trees. Ye,s it is humiliating but more for us than for the Shechina... oh woe is us in this golus.

8/09/2006 10:50 PM  
Blogger the sabra said...

frumgirl-where can i buy the shechina humiliation barometer that you seem to own?

ah and jake, thanks for a new word-katastrofi ;)

8/10/2006 5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post

8/10/2006 3:34 PM  
Blogger jakeyology said...


m00kie: two aspects in r' akiva's consolation: 1) that this destruction/humiliation will LEAD to a better redemption; 2) that the destruction/humiliation itself is the BEGINNING of the redemption. the rabbi's saw only how it is now; r' akiva was able to console them by showing them how even now, exile, is only how we perceive it. (you really must read this sicha, it's yiddish, to fully get the power of this message - i cannot do it justice.)

FRUMGIRL: there are many reasons given for why this story must refer to the humiliation and not the destruction itself. i'll name a few:
1)why does r' akiva question the crying - isn't it obvious that they cry for the destruction?
2)r' akiva himself also tore his clothing when they reached mount zerphim - so why does he ask "why do you cry?"
3)how can r' akiva even doubt for a second that a prophecy will be fullfilled?
(there are more questions on this story and i suggest you read the source for i cannot, once again, do it justice.)

this in no way takes away our own personal and global suffering, if anything it makes it sadder, knowing how G-d sits with us - and happier in a (much harder) way, knowing that all our suffering is the beginning of something great.

i think i'm gonna do a whole post on this: comments don't cover the brunt of it.


SABRA: i think, as the story illustrates, we are the barometer for the shechina's suffering - when we cry, He cries; when we laugh, He laughs.

yes, you seem to be in the market for new words and i always try to oblige.

anon: thnx

8/10/2006 5:07 PM  
Blogger anonym00kie said...

im pretty sure i wont get around to reading it, or learning yiddish for that matter, so thanks for the post and the comments/explanations :)

8/10/2006 10:47 PM  
Blogger the sabra said...

actually im not so sure-if all of klal yisrael would accept this golus and go on laughing-i highly doubt that our Father will 'forget' about us in His joy.

He is in pain whether we realize it or not.

8/13/2006 5:50 AM  
Blogger FrumGirl said...

Ok, Ok, I stand corrected. The Sabra - good point!

8/15/2006 10:33 PM  
Blogger the sabra said...


8/19/2006 7:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home