Introduction to the 3 weeks
Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
In Sefer Shmuel [Shmuel Beis, Chapter 24] we read about a deadly pestilence that killed 70,000 people. Dovid Hamelech had called for a national census, thereby upsetting Hashem. However, it is clear from the posukim that Hashem was upset at Klal Yisroel even before the census occurred [see 24:1], however it does not state why.
Ramban, in last week's Parsha [Bamidbar 16:21-22] suggests, by way of reason, that it seems this was a punishment for the Jewish people not building the Bais Hamikdash. At that particular period in history, the Aron Hakodesh was roaming from tent to tent, like a stranger in a land, without a permanent residence; yet the Jewish people did not bestir themselves to say, "Let us seek out Hashem and build the Bais Hamikdash for His sake." The idea of building a proper edifice only occurred many years later, after they had settled in Eretz Yisroel. Ramban adds, had they truly wanted a permanent residence, Hashemwould not have been angry with them, the Bais Hamikdash would have been built, and they would never have suffered.
Does this pertain to us? The Chofetz Chaim, zt"l, in his Kuntris Tzepesa L'yeshuah (Chapter 3) writes, Hashem has complaints against a person who is not yearning for Hashem's Kingship. The Medrash [Yalkut She'moni, Eichah 997] relates, at the time of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, Yitzchok Avinu asked Hashem, "Perhaps Klal Yisroel will never return to a Bais Hamikdash?" Hashem answered, "There will be a generation that seeks My Kingship and they will be redeemed immediately." This idea was also conveyed by the prophet Yirmiyah [31:16] "Yeish tikvah l'achareisecha, n'um Hashem, v'shavu vanim l'gvulam" (and those who yearn for the redemption, says Hashem, will return to their borders). We see that if one awaits Hashem'sKingship, it hastens the Final Redemption!
Additionally, the Gemara [Shabbos 31a] teaches, one of the questions each person will be asked at their final accounting in heaven is "were you m'zapeh l'yeshuah" ("did you long for the Final Redemption")? The Chofetz Chaim, zt"l, points out the language of "tzipeesa" means someone who is eagerly awaiting something, similar to a person going to a high point in order to have the best view to see if there is any change occurring. We see that it is expected of each Jew to eagerly await Hashem'sKingdom to be revealed speedily.
The Chofetz Chaim, zt"l, adds that we recite numerous prayers each day for the redemption. This includes, several brachos of Shemoneh Esrei, and Aleinu. Our Torah demands us to "Stay away from falsehood" [Shemos 23:7]. If a person is not honestly awaiting the geulah, how can one lie each time he stands before the King of the Universe, who knows each person's precise intentions?
With the impending period of the "Three Weeks" approaching, a time when, as a whole, we are more focused on our lack of the Bais Hamikdash, may we keep these ideas in mind; at least when are saying the words of these tefillos. With just a little thought we can make a world of a difference!