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Tisha b’Av: A good leader gives us hope

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A good leader gives us hope.  

Parshat Devarim is always read on the shabbat prior to Tisha B’Av, and in this parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu, who is just about to pass away, gives reproof to the nation as he recalls the 40 years of their travels in the wilderness. 

Moshe commences his words of criticism with the term ‘eicha’ – the same word with which we commence the book of lamentations (‘Eicha’) that we read on Tisha b’Av. Moshe declares (Devarim 1:12),  

“Eicha esa levadi tarchachem umasaachem verivchem.” – “How impossible it has been for me alone to endure your troubles, the burdens you’ve placed upon me and your arguments.” 

Moshe here acknowledges the deep weaknesses of the people and the dangers they face as a result. But prior to his ‘eicha’, he had declared (Devarim 1:11),  

“Hashem, Elokei avoteichem, yosif aleichem kachem eilef pe’amim, viyvarech etchem k’asher diber lachem.” – “The Lord your God will increase your number a thousandfold and will bless you as he has promised you.”  

Although the nation is facing numerous challenges, Moshe here gives them hope, and what a wonderful message that is for all of us. Regardless of our circumstances, there is always room for hope.  

Furthermore, the great thing about the destiny of the Jewish people is that we’re guaranteed a positive outcome because of the blessings of Hashem in the Torah. That’s why, against all odds, we continue to exist to this day.

This is the tone that is set for the fast of Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the year, which is also called a ‘moed’ or festival by our prophets. Just as Moshe realised that we have to be true to the challenges that face us, and we have to recognise the dangers that we experience, nonetheless we must be filled with hope. So too, on Tisha B’Av we mourn the suffering of the past with much pain and grief, but we also pray that this day of sadness will ultimately become the greatest yom tov of the year.

No wonder therefore that our sages predicted that Moshiach will be born on Tisha B’Av. Let’s hope it will be Tisha B’Av this year and, please God, may we only face a happy and wonderful future.