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Words From Our Rabbeim

There Is Nothing More Complete Than a Broken Heart

ByRabbi Elly Merenstein

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The Gemara (Taanos 26b) describes the events which occurred on the seventeenth of Tammuz. “Five things happened to our ancestors in the 17th of Tammuz. On the 17th of Tamuz, the Luchos were broken, the twice-daily Korbon Tamid offering was stopped, the city was breached, Apostamos burned the Torah, and he placed an Avodah Zara in the Bais Hamikdash There is much debate as to some of the details of these events. In any event or scenario, we all agree that all these events point to a time of such heavy pain, brokenness, devastation, and much loss. As hard as we try to relate to such magnitude of tragedy it virtually seems impossible. Is there any positive way to view it and to relate it to our current modern-day Avodas Hashem? The answer is that it is true that is impossible to relate these tragedies but one can certainly relate to ideas of devastation, brokenness, and tragedy and it is important to take this day as a time to reflect on how we view devastation, brokenness, and tragedy. We certainly can and must include it in our Avodah and only in the most positive of ways. How sad would it be not to honor the events or feelings of those who so deeply felt the gaping loss these events were to them and really should be for us. We must try and relate , grow and even get uplifted in the process.

The Question Is How?

The Kotzker Rebbe would say “ There is nothing more complete than a broken heart”. Ain Davar shalem m Lev shenishbar. Dovid Hamelech eloquently captures the lofty connection to Hashem of a broken man.
“Karov Hashem lnishberie lev ve es daakei ruach yoshia “

As we reflect, let us consider the regal , holy and mournful sound of the Shofar that we will blow on Rosh Hashanah. We also can hear the call of the Shofar’s Shevarim/Teruah as a message of designed to express the brokenness and unspoken stifled cries that we all have simmering inside us all. Shevarim means broken and its sounds are meant to be blown in a pattern of broken, with a break in between each sound. We also break the middle matzah to remind us of a certain time when we were slaves, in the mud, beaten and just so broken. When we are looking and feeling our finest, we dab some ash on the Chossen’s forehead, we break a dish and a glass. As a new Chossen and Kallah begin their journey they are imparted with the important lesson of brokenness and of course are reminded of the home of Hashem in Yerushalayim that is a home that is truly the most broken of all homes (for now).

When looking at the list of incomprehensible events and losses, it is always valuable to go to the first event on that list and try to glean understanding of it as a root source. We do know that the root of all this catastrophe, began with either Lashon Hara, Negativity of the Meraglim,and then there is the breaking of the Luchos by Moshe after he sees his people, dancing around an Eigal. At this point on שבעה עשר בתמוז, I would like to introduce you to the sequel of this story:

Did you ever wonder what actually happened to the shards and the remains of the broken Luchos? This is a vital part of the story that took place and these are events that you also must know! Did you know that Moshe picks up each precious piece of the Broken Luchos? He collects every shard, and he lovingly places every piece in the holy Aron HaKodesh. Moshe Rabbeinu knows that the image of the broken Luchos has a very important message for all jews and in every generation. Did you know that once the people had achieved forgiveness and atonement for their failure, Moshe was told to carve a second set of Luchos?. These were not the work of Hashem, as the first ones. Rather, they were the achievement of human work. They were merited through the Tshuva of the people and the stubborn pleading of Moshe. These Luchos that were produced by man, from the blood, sweat,and tears of our sincere Teshuva- These Luchos remained whole! How inspiring is that? Did you know that both the second, whole Luchos and the original, broken ones were placed together in the Aron Hakodesh. Can you imagine that in the small space of the Aron Hakodesh they found importance to place both the whole and both the broken side by side?

The Reshis Chochmah teaches that the Aron Hakodesh is a symbol of the human heart. An inspiring and positive message that I understood from these sources is that perhaps it is time to allow our heart to feel brokenness and the bitterness that comes with that. But- do not stop there!! The shards of the shattered Luchos are there and they certainly are real, they remind us that they were in fact supposed to be full and whole but were broken. Most importantly we need to feel the endless joy and Bracha of it sitting in context to and right next to – a beautiful ,new and whole set of Luchos. A Luchos that is born off of failure, returning to our true self, and one that is made by the imperfection of man. If you should say, “But it is impossible! It is beyond the capacity of a created being to be broken and whole at once” It just means that perhaps you have not properly understood this lesson or you may not be in touch with the deep and powerful nature of the human heart. שבעה עשר בתמוז is not a day for a boring recitation of seemingly irrelevant historical tragedies. It is not a day where we just fast , watch hours of movies or sleep the day away. I mean, you can do that because nobody is stopping from doing that, but it is meant to be a day that is packed with power, meaning, and connection to self, others and to Hashem. It can be a day to get in touch with the broken and whole sides of your heart. Cherish both and get uplifted by the full picture and the excitement lying up ahead in your future.

Let us always remember and live with the Kotzker Rebbi’s idea- “There is nothing more whole than a broken heart”.

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