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Dear  Naaleh Friend,
This week we feature another meaningful class from the  Naaleh  series  Jerusalem, Echoes of Lament: Tisha B'Av and the Three Weeks .  The class is brand new from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller and is titled  The Three Weeks.    In this shiur Rebbetzin Heller discusses the meaning and message of Three Weeks.

To watch this class now and learn more please click on the image below: 

This week's edition of our Torat Imecha Newsletter on this week's Parsha is available on our Newsletter page
Click here for the printer friendly version, to share at your Shabbat table! Be sure to visit the homepage as well, for many more inspiring Torah classes! 
Shabbat Shalom!

-Ashley Klapper and the Naaleh Crew
The Shulchan Aruch states that anyone who is truly God fearing should mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple. If this is the province of an elite group, how are we who are not on such a high spiritual level to relate to this tragic event? The deeper question, states the  Paamei Moed  , is why are we not pained? If we realize that the beit hamikdosh was the medium of our connection to God through the  korbanot , we will indeed mourn its destruction and be disturbed for not sensing Hashem's presence close to us. As the  Sifsei Chaim writes, a person who understands that his focus in life should be to bring glory to God's name feels the pain of not having Hashem nearby.
The Nefesh Hachaim  explains that it was not the enemy that destroyed our Temple, but our own actions. But a parallel Temple still exists in heaven, and even more so within our hearts, and our deeds on earth have the power to either help rebuild or continue to destroy it. The power of the Three Weeks helps us access our inner beit hamikdosh . By strengthening that connection, we are adding to the not yet built third beit hamikdosh . Citing Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, Rabbi Chaim notes that during the Three Weeks a person can achieve the same level of forgiveness as on Yom Kippur by working on his inner life. First, he must recognize and feel that something is missing from his life. Only then will he try to improve.
God was not always so distant. When He first created the world, His presence was imminent and palpable. However, when Adam sinned, He removed Himself to the first heaven. After Cain's sin, He removed Himself to the second heaven, and so on with each succeeding human failing, from Enosh who first began idol worship to Egypt where all was depravity, Hashem kept removing Himself degree by degree until He was so far removed from earth that mankind no longer recognized His presence and attributed everything to nature. By contrast, there were righteous men who broke through the barriers and brought God's presence back to earth in similar stages. Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Levi, Kehas, Amram and finally Moshe who, when he brought the  Luchot , Hashem Himself came down in a cloud with him. The sin of the golden calf again removed God's presence, but Hashem gave us the  Mishkan  in the desert and later the beit hamikdosh as a means of again bringing Him back.
The Sages tell us that the  Shechinah  departed in ten stages, as Hashem hoped the nation would notice and would return to Him. It departed first from the curtain over the Ark to the Cherub, then to the threshold of the Inner Sanctum, and so on until it departed completely. The enemies destroyed the shell, for the "soul", God's presence had left the building. The whole purpose of the beit hamikdosh , and indeed of the entire world, was to have a place where God's presence could reside, and we have lost it. When will He return? Only when we return to Him. The first step in the process is the first word of the confessional prayer -  Ashamnu  - We are guilty. We must take personal responsibility, not blame society or circumstances.
Megillat Eicha  refers to the day the Temple was destroyed as a festival. For this reason, we don't recite  Tachanun  on this day. The  Aleh Shor  explains that some festivals are festivals of closeness and some are festivals of distance. But there is yet a third category of being in limbo, of not recognizing or admitting your true level. Tisha b'Av  is a festival of distance, for on this day we admit our guilt and take responsibility for the distance we have created between Hashem and ourselves. Taking responsibility is the first step in repairing the relationship, and that step is cause for celebration.
Rabbi Spero points out that  Eicha  can be read as Ayekah  - Where are you? This was the question Hashem asked Adam after he ate of the forbidden fruit. And Adam, like so many of us, was afraid to admit his guilt. Hashem continues to ask us, "Where are we? What has become of us?" Before our birth, writes Rabbi Pincus, each of us took an oath to live as a tzadik.   Tisha b'Av reminds us of how broken we are, how we have not been living up to our potential, and Hashem mourns over the destruction of the temple within each of us and the distance between us that that destruction has created. Thus the Three Weeks constitute a preparation for the teshuvah of the month of Elul and of Rosh Hashanah.
The Heorat Derech  notes that no other generation has been as challenged as we are, with so many unholy pleasures beckoning on all sides. Our youth, hungry for spiritual content, search to fill themselves with fleeting pleasures. With true prayer, attention to the words, a desire for connection through the prayer, that emptiness can begin to be filled spiritually and can last forever.
Every creature, plant and inanimate object that Hashem created has a mission, writes the  Paamei Moed . When they are able to fulfill their purpose, they are filled with joy and sing praises to Hashem. When they cannot fulfill their purpose, they mourn and cannot sing. When Bnei Yisroel was exiled, the paths upon which they traveled for the three Festivals mourned, for they could not fulfill their purpose. And we mourned, for we could not fulfill our service by bringing God's presence down into the world as we had done in the beit hamikdosh . We could no longer feel whole and complete. Is it any wonder that when our captors demanded that we sing by the waters of Babylon, we could not. We pray for Moshiach , according to the  Mesilas Yeshorim , because we want to be able to perfect ourselves through our service to God, not to solve personal problems. That lack should keep us in a constant state of mourning.
The Netivot Shalom teaches that if one tries to copy someone else's service and mission, one is guilty of serving Hashem through strange and improper ways. He then continues by explaining the well known story of the potential convert who approached Shammai and asked to be taught the Torah on one foot. Shammai told him there was no cookie cutter way to serve Hashem. The convert would have to find his own way, and that search is not necessary simple and easy. When the convert then approached Hillel he answered, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your friend." You are obligated to do what Hashem presents to you, not to someone else. That work on character which you find hateful and difficult, is the precise area you must seek to improve.  

Eicha Part 2
Based on a shiur by Mrs. Shoshie Nissenbaum
Eicha is written according to the order of the aleph beit. This signifies that the destruction was so all encompassing that no person was left untouched. It also symbolizes the cycle of pain and alienation that hovered over the Jewish people throughout the period of the churban. In chapter three there are three alephs, three verses that describe the destruction. When Yirmiyahu presented the first two chapters of Megilat Eicha to King Yehoyachin, he was very upset. When the prophet got to the verse about the kings who would be led into exile, King Yehoyachin took the megilah and threw it into the fireplace. The Midrash then describes how Hashem said, "You wanted to get rid of chapter one and two, I will give you a third chapter with three verses for every letter of the aleph beit."  

" Eicha yashva badad."  (How does she sit alone?) This potent and all encompassing question was asked by Yirmiyahu, Yerushalayim, Klal Yisrael, and Hashem. Eicha can be read as Ayeka, where are you? KlalYisrael asks Hashem, "Where am I? Ayeh koh, is this real?" The Jewish people try to comprehend an unthinkable reality. They never thought Hashem would decimate the beit hamikdosh. When Yirmiyahu prophesied it would be destroyed, they accused him of being an apostate as if he did not believe that Hashem could do anything. The Jews were very confident that they wouldn't fall prey to their enemies and that the beit hamikdash would remain standing forever. The miracle of the slaying of Sancheiriv and his army gave the people a false sense of security. They thought that if Hashem had saved them then, He'd save them again. Instead of taking it as a message to keep on learning and observing the Torah as they did in the days of Chizkiyahu, it became a trap for them. We see in the prophecy of Yirmiyahu that  Hashem says, "I will destroy the house you were so confident I wouldn't destroy just as I did in Shilo and I will send you from before me just as the ten tribes were punished." Their false sense of hope was dashed. They exclaimed, "Eicha. How did this happen? How could it be and how do we move forward? Where are we headed?"   

The word badad can mean either alone or comfortless. It's the mindset that makes a person think, no one understands me.  I'm completely isolated and alienated. The pain of loneliness can be lethal. " Eicha yashva badad." How did a nation who was so united and connected become so alienated? How did they face the painful challenges and tests in their life alone? "Hayta k'almanah." Rashi points out, " K'almanah v'lo k'almana mamash." She is like a widow but not an actual widow. The relationship that Yirmiyahu is describing is perhaps one of the most painful relationships a person can experience. Widowhood is certainly painful but it's clear. K'almanah is a woman who doesn't know her status. In a relationship that is supposed to yield warmth, compassion, and closeness, the woman finds apathy, coldness, and distance. She wants to connect and she encounters detachment. This is the pain of Klal Yisrael. Yirmiyahu is intimating, we know where we should be, we know we could have an intimate relationship with Hashem, yet we're so far away. All we find is coldness in a relationship that by definition should have been one of warmth and attachment.

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