We currently find ourselves in a stretch of the Jewish calendar called "Between the Narrows" (Bein Hametzarim). On the 17th of Tammuz (this year July 9), the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Roman legions besieging the city; twenty-one days later, on the 9th of Av, the Holy Temple was set aflame. These two events spawned twenty centuries of galut -- of physical persecution and spiritual alienation for our people. Today, the two fast days stand as markers of national tragedy, with all the pain and frustration of our galut compressed into "The Three Weeks" they enclose.
During this period of bitterness and introspection, we take stock of the faults that led to the destruction of the Temple, and try to eradicate them from our own conduct. Why was the Temple destroyed? One reason given is unwarranted hatred. The Jewish people, even during the siege of
What is the motivating principle for this motif? The fact that at the core of every person there lies a soul which is a G-dly spark, and that every element of existence is being maintained by G-d each moment. By conducting ourselves in a manner that attests to and reflects these truths, we nudge them closer to revelation. Every entity seeks to express its inner nature. Reaching out with love and kindness inspires and encourages the good and generosity that lie at the core of all others to come to the surface.
Such deeds affect the macrocosm as well as the microcosm, bringing closer the Era of the Redemption, when these concepts will be concrete realities, not merely abstract truths.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe would always say that we cannot, must not, dare not, explain the galut. G-d does not need our help to justify His ways; we do Him a greater service by pleading and clamoring for an end to His and our exile. Nevertheless, even as we refuse to accept the travesty of galut, we should still exploit its positive dividends. The Jewish soul, a divine expanse of goodness and light, has been squeezed into the narrow straits of galut. Imagine what will come out at the other end! Already, this cosmic pinch has wrung from the Jewish soul wells of talent and creativity, and depths of faith and commitment, that in the good old broad days were only implicit in its potential.
May we soon merit the great shofar blast of Moshiach, and the great moment of the soul's bursting free of the strictures of galut.