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Dear  Naaleh Friend,
Jerusalem was once a city that shone with the Divine Presence and rang with the sounds of people serving their Creator. Today, the Beit Hamikdash no longer stands, and our primary goal of kiddush Hashem seems to be muted. What were the causes of this destruction? What should we do to return to our former glory as G-d's Holy people, serving Him in Jerusalem? Explore these questions, and other topics relating to the Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av, in this special series   Jerusalem, Echoes of Lament: Tisha B'Av and the Three Weeks .  

To watch the classes in this series now and to 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
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Shabbat Shalom!

-Ashley Klapper and the Naaleh Crew
Relating to the Churban
Why is it so difficult to mourn for the churban ? Our problem is that we view exile as normal. What's abnormal has become normal and because our historic memory has dimmed it's difficult to envision who we really could be without exile. The tragedy of the destruction was that it robbed us of our identity. I teach in Neve Yerushalayim. A significant proportion of students come to us after going on the March of the Living. What brings them to Neve is the question, why are our people always singled out? So many thousands of Jews identify themselves as victims. We've suffered so much. Therefore they now want to find out the mystery of why we suffer, as though victimhood is an identity. One cost that our long exile exacted from us is that we forgot who we truly are. Not only did we lose our identity, but we created a new erroneous one defined through suffering.

The identity we are meant to have is stated in the Torah. Hashem said He did not choose us because we were the most numerous of all nations. He chose us because of the merits of our patriarchs. Yet we destroyed our identity and our sacred self- knowledge long before anything external was destroyed. We destroyed the Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov within us. How? The Talmud tells us that the first temple was destroyed because of three major sins. The first was idol worship. You can't worship an idol and Hashem at the same time. An idol is anything you create either by hand or via your imagination to which you attribute control. We give control to many forces such as the medical, political, and financial community. This is not because there's anything wrong with them but because there's something wrong with our relationship towards them. Listen to how we talk- "The doctors say it's beyond help." Did they? And there's nothing else in the picture? Is Hashem's voice emanating from their mouth as though you can't have a direct relationship with Him? We are in exile because we lost ourselves.

There's a person in my shul who was diagnosed with a serious illness. The doctors gave him two weeks to live. Most people would say, "That's the end," and go into deep depression. He decided to be simple, not in the sense of being foolish, but in seeing things as they are. A month later, he's still around. If you ask him how he is he'll say, "Happy and content." This past week when he spoke in shul he said, "People ask me if I'm afraid."  In the famous Rav Nachman story of the sophisticated and the simpleton, the story climaxes with the simple son, the one who is direct and clear minded. He knows the king while the sophisticated son is still questioning because he never met the king directly. The man then said, "If the king summons me, I'll be simple. I'll just go. Am I going to someone who hates me, who is going to treat me badly? No, I'm going to the one who I've been calling for years, my father, my king, the one who gave me life and sustenance and a family. Who am I afraid to face?" This person is not in exile like most of us are.  If you worship idols, the Yitzchak in you is lost. Yitzchak was completely devoted to Hashem. He took the moment of the akeida and was able to say, "I'll give myself over to Hashem not only in the great dramatic moments but every day." He initiated spiritual self -discipline. We also lost Avraham who recognized a unifying force and then set out to bring this force into the world by living a life of kindness and justice. A person who has Avraham within him can't be immoral because all immorality is exploitive. If you see the world as beautiful gift from Hashem and you want to be a giver you can't possibly exploit someone. Yaakov was a man of truth. He saw the truth in everyone. If you have Yaakov living inside of you, you can't possibly murder. Before the destruction we lost all this. We were already distant and in exile before we were in exile.

While non- Jews see time as an artificial devise lending structure to life, Judaism views it as having its own force and power. The number nine signifies absolute dissolution and distance from unity. The ninth of Av was a day set aside from the time of creation to be a day of mourning and because of that, horrifying events took place that day. Tisha bav is a time of mourning with all of the divisiveness that hides Hashem's unified presence from us. Av means father. In reality it was a time of av u'ben (father and son), a time of binding when Hashem's closeness to us was manifested through destruction because we lost our identity. Destruction is something we need consciously. Although we resisted it externally, our souls wanted it. All souls want rectification. The road was cut off by our bad choices. Our souls said no and Hashem did for us what was needed. Beneath the surface any Jew would rather be what our enemies are not and we had to face this confrontation to know that. If one asks where the suffering took us, one must take it back to the destruction of the beit hamikdash which came as a result of losing our identity.
Eicha Part 2
Based on a shiur by Mrs. Shoshie Nissenbaum
"She weeps in the night and her tears are on her cheeks. She has no one to comfort her, all of her friends have rebelled against her and become her enemies." Rashi notes the double language of crying as referring to the first and second beit hamikdash . The Alshich explains that she cries into the stillness of night so that others should hear her and come to comfort her but no one does. She cries to release her pain. The Midrash tells us that when the enemies entered the beit hamikdash they took the young boys and tied their hands behind their back and the tears trickled down and they couldn't wipe them. The Midrash paints a picture of isolation, helplessness, and being trapped in pain.

We find constant references to Klal Yisrael's alliances with other nations in the books of Hoshea and Yeshaya very much depicted as a married women who sins. Instead of turning to Hashem we turned to the nations of the world who rebelled against us in our desperate hour of need. Not only didn't they help us but they took an active part in harming us. We see this repeated throughout Jewish history.

The Midrash tells us, Rabbi Levi says, wherever it says ein it means the situation is only temporary. At the moment we may not have it but we will eventually get it. The Midrash brings  several verses to prove this idea. The Torah refers to Sarah Imeinu, " Ein lah v'lad ," at the moment she was barren but then " V'Hashem pakad et Sarah ," Hashem remembered her and gave her a child. Likewise it says about Chana, " Ule'Chana ein lah yeladim ," she had no children, but then Hashem gave her Shmuel. So too in Eicha it says, " Ein la nenachem ," at the moment the Jewish nation has no consolation but " Uva l'tzion goel ,"  when we can look at the world and say, "Nothing else brings me comfort except for you Hashem," then the redeemer will come and we will find true comfort. This is the process we are meant to go through in the Nine Days. Hashem tells us, "Don't focus on new clothing, fine wine and meat, and music." We cannot find comfort in anything but Hashem, because what is lacking in our life is not pretty dresses or well done steaks, but you Hashem. When we can say, "None of the pleasures of the world can comfort me, nothing can take my mind off of what I'm really missing in my life, then " U'va l'tzion goel ,' we will merit the final redemption speedily in our days.

Desiring and Delving
Based on a shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles

The Sifsei Chaim quoting the Nefesh Hachaim notes that there are two aspects to the beit hamikdash . There is the physical beit hamikdash that was and the inner beit hamikdash which resides within each of us. If we understand the implications of this it means that if a Jew harbors inappropriate thoughts it is like bringing inappropriate things into the beit hamikdash . When we sin we are destroying the beit hamikdash within us. Hashem's original desire was that each of us would be the conduit of the Shechina . If we haven't merited to see the rebuilding of the physical beit hamikdash it means there's something within us that's lacking. First we must look inside us to see where we have gone astray. Very much part of what the beit hamikdash was about was an inner building, an understanding of what Hashem wants from us. Bein hamitzarim is a time of repentance, a time to reorient ourselves to be able to bring the Shechina back into our lives.

The Leket V'halibuv writes that a person should be filled with a yearning for the rebuilding of the beit hamikdash and the revelation of the Shechina . The third beit hamikdash will be rebuilt only by our wanting and desiring it. The Sefas Emes on the verse, " L'shichno tidreshu ," says that when we long for the beit hamikdash that is how we become part of the process of bringing it back.

The Nesivos Shalom notes that we mourn for the inability to mourn for the churban . The greatest tragedy is apathy and thinking we can live in a world without the beit hamikdash . When the beit hamikdash stood we felt Hashem's presence. We knew with clarity what our priorities were, to sanctify the name of Hashem and we tried to live up to that ideal. Exile is apathy. It's saying, "I'm ok where I'm at," when in truth we can't be ok in a world where there's darkness and concealment of Hashem's presence. Our avodah during this time period is to take an honest look and ask ourselves, "Am I living a life of exile? Am I mourning the outer building and forgetting about the inner building which is likewise missing?

Rav Kluger points out that our mourning and yearning for the beit hamikdash connects us to the spiritual closeness of this time. Chazal say, "One who mourns for Yerushalayim merits to see its joy." The joy in the mourning is our pain and longing which binds us to the love experience of Hashem and Knesset Yisrael . The pain proves to us that we are still intrinsically connected. Our mourning for the churban i s not a lament for the past but a way of bringing us to the reality of the geulah within us. The letters of Tamuz and Av hint to us that the days of teshuva are approaching. Our mourning serves as preparation for the yearning and closeness of the coming days of favor.

Featured Classes
Introduction to Avot Melachot
Rabbi Shimon Isaacson
Reality Of Redemption Mrs. Shira Smiles
Parshas Devarim-
The Spiritual Wars of Israel
Rabbi Hershel Reichman

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