Monday, July 1, 2019


I don’t think I get an original idea too often and when I do, there is no guarantee that it’s necessarily a good one. A few weeks ago was one of those very rare occasions in my life when I got one that actually checked both boxes. I still called the Gateshead Rav, shlita, and several other Rabbanim to make sure. Shavuos had just ended. I enjoyed enormously the people I had met at the hotel program where I had been speaking. Then I thought of the next significant event in the Jewish calendar and my good mood vanished. Shivah Asar B’Tammuz and the start of the Three Weeks was coming up next. Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, famously got upset when he heard Jews uttering the phrase, “Shver tzu zayn a Yid — It’s hard to be a Jew.” His distress is understandable. “How many Jews left the Torah,” he would ask, “because all day long they heard their parents utter those awful words!” But then, the Three Weeks are a return to a time when repeatedly, over and over, the phrase that caused Reb Moshe distress seems to describe our situation perfectly. We just don’t seem able to solve the “Three Week” problem. I wrote a book about this last year. Building Tomorrow discusses sinas chinam and how to get rid of it for good. To paraphrase the Talmud Yerushalmi in Yoma: If you live in a generation where Shivah Asar B’Tammuz is on the calendar, you are doing the same things as those who put it there in the first place. But of course I wrote that book before I had my lightbulb moment. Maybe if I’d had my epiphany and then submitted the manuscript, things would have been different! At this point you are probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about. I know it’s unfair to keep you in suspense, but before I reveal my intention I have to tell you a story. Soon after I moved to the U.S., the job for which I had moved here ran out of money, leaving me unemployed. Our financial situation was desperate and I went to discuss it with Harav Mattisyahu Salomon, shlita. I have known him for over 40 years. I outlined my predicament. Then I said, “I don’t know why I am so worried. I think I am a maamin, but if I really am a maamin, why am I so worried?” He looked at me thoughtfully as I finished, “I the view WHAT A MAAMIN SHOULD DO feel such a fraud.” Rav Mattisyahu considered for a long moment and said, “Maybe you are a fraud!” Then he resumed the smile I know so well. The conclusion we came to was that maybe this had happened to me precisely to make me consider what sort of relationship I actually have with Hashem. After all, if I really do have emunah and bitachon, why wasn’t I talking to Him about my desperate financial situation? And that is the eureka moment I would like to share with you, in order to remove the fast of 17 Tammuz from our calendars once and for all. Sinas chinam and lashon hara have stuck tenaciously to us for 2,000 years. Tragically, our inability to change that fact makes “shver tzu zayn a Yid” seem to fit us perfectly. So the next time someone upsets you and the need to tell someone swells up inside you like a bomb about to explode … go ahead! Only make sure you tell it to the only One who can really do something about it. Tell Hashem. Now I know this sounds silly, but Chazal tell us that the Satan falls for his own tricks! As long as he got you to speak lashon hara, he thinks he’s won and leaves you alone, even if it was to Hashem! I have tried this out and it really works. Let Hashem know exactly what happened (you won’t be telling Him anything new). Pour out your heart. Make it clear you aren’t trying to “convict” anyone, just express why you’re so upset. The strange thing is, in telling it all to Him you really won’t feel the need to tell anyone else. After all, isn’t that precisely what a maamin would do?  Rabbi Rubinstein is a renowned author and lecturer. He lives in New York and travels all over the world to speak and teach. And that is the eureka moment I would like to share with you, in order to remove the fast of 17 Tammuz from our calendars by RABBI Y. Y. RUBINSTEIN 30 Sivan 5779 9