Our Tears And Our Prayers
The Ninth of Av
By Dr. Akiva G. Belk
This study of the Holy Days is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Paul Sakash, may he rest in peace.

At this time of year there is both death and life, kindness and hatred, destruction and building, truth and lies, fairness and unjustness and compassion and strictness. We were fortunate to be among the group that found compassion. However not all Yiddishkeit has such favor at this time of year. Many horrible tragedies have occurred around the ninth of Av which we have discussed in the article Tish B' Av.

Aharon Ha Kohen Godal died on the fifth of Av. Each year when we mourn the nine days of Av we are mourning from the first of Av through the ninth of Av. We mourn the period of Aharon's death.

While mourning the dead we sometimes may forget the living. Moshe was the only remaining of Aharon's siblings. He would soon die also. This thought gripped him after his brother Aharon died. He would be next...

During the thirty days that Kal Yisroel mourned Aharon's death {see Numbers 20:29}, Moshe reflected, 'Who will eulogize me? Who will come to my funeral?'

Miriam died in the first month of the same year. When she died the water that flowed from the rock for forty years stopped. {Exodus 17:1-6 and Numbers 20:2}

When Aharon died the clouds of Hashem's Glory that had covered B'nei Yisroel for forty years departed. {Numbers 21:1} This is what the Canaanite king Arad heard. B'nei Yisroel was feeling very exposed, very vulnerable... They were afraid! This happened during the week of Av. So within a short period of time B'nei Yisroel was challenged by the loss of water and the loss of the clouds of glory. B'nei Yisroel had come to depend upon these supernatural provisions.

Holy reader, each of us will eventually breathe our last breath. We do not know when that day will come... Each of us should have a long and productive Torah fulfilled life, G-d Willing! Yet when that day does come it will be as sudden for us as it was for Miriam and for Aharon the Kohen Godal.

Today is the day that we make provisions for our future by remembering our past. Our future is built upon our past. We remember our many hardships, the hardships of the Jewish people. We afflict our bodies with fasting. We mourn! We pray. By remembering our hardships, our destruction, we insure our future and the future of our children.

On the ninth of Av we need to connect with the feelings of when we lost our water source in the middle of the desert. Each of us was in imminent danger. 3,000,000 of us were going to perish if our water source was not restored. Our cattle were going to perish...

When the Glory of Hashem departed from us shortly before our invasion into Canaan, we felt the heat of the sun bearing down on us for the first time in forty years. We began to realize how wonderful the clouds of Hashem's Glory were, now after they were gone.

Today, holy readers, our tears are the waters of life and our prayers are the beckoning for the future clouds of Hashem's Glory. When we remember our past we also must recognize that our day of death may be closer than we think. We must make preparations to leave this world... We must reinforce the future generations with our tears and our prayers. We MUST LEAD our children in tears and in prayers so that they will remember... when we are gone!!

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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