Parsha: Devarim (2023)


This coming week we will commemorate the sad day of Tisha ba’v. The day of fasting and mourning, over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.

This Shabbat is given a special name, it is called “Shabbat Chazon” literally the “Shabbat of vision”. This is because this week we read the Haftorah of “Chazon Yeshayahu.” This Haftorah is always read right before Tisha b’av.

Tisha ba’v is a time when we think about the different calamities that befell the Jewish people. We also reflect on the Holocaust, as this is the most recent moment of devastation in the history of our people.

Jakob Binstok, a Holocaust survivor, was a beloved member of our Maroubra community, he passed way last week. I was very inspired as I heard about his story of survival. I was also able to watch his interview about his life experiences during the Holocaust.

There is one moment in his story that I believe captures the message of Tisha b’av.

Tisha b’av is a day of destruction, caused by hatred and disloyalty to our fellow Jews. So on this day we recommit ourselves to spreading love and kindness.

It was one day where Jakob, had the opportunity to escape a labour camp, in his hometown.

Since it was his hometown, he was very familiar with all the roads, and alley ways. He was able to set up a plan to escape before they would take all the remaining Jews to Auschwitz.

He then went around the labour camp, trying to convince all his friends and acquaintances to join him in this final chance to escape. Most of his friends were too scared to join. But several of his friends did have the courage to join.

Thank G-d he made his way out safely. He saved the lives of all those that joined him, by guiding them through the village that he knew so well.

It is very moving and empowering to see a person who is going through terrible suffering, to still be able to care about others in a very profound and courageous way.

Tisha B’Av is a moment of deep sorrow, but at the same time we are able to keep the “vision” to help others, and the vision to rebuild ourselves.

There is a beautiful verse from King Solomon’s book of proverbs (Mishlei) that says “a Tzadik will fall seven times, but he will get back up.”

It is this power to “get back up” that has the been the “magic” that keeps us, the Jewish people going. Indeed it’s a source of immense inspiration for all those who take a moment to pause, notice it, and think it about deeply.

May this year, be the last year of mourning and fasting, Next year in Jerusalem !

Shabbat Shalom

For details about our Tisha b’av program please click here.