By: Steve Kirschenbaum
The destruction of the Tochacha is quite gloomy, but when we look at Jewish history, it’s really a prophecy. The Maharal imparts a Yesod in Netzach Yisrael and other places. העדר הוא סבת הווייתו – Ha’eder, when you lack something, that serves as the springboard that leads to accomplishment; it’s the root of achievement. However, if you do not lack anything, it’s way more difficult to accomplish. For example, in Bereishis 1:2, first, there was Tohu Va’vohu, nothingness, and then Yehi Ohr, there was light. For creation to occur, you must start with Tohu Va’vohu, with nothingness. The first Klal of the Torah is if you don’t have anything, that’s a Siba (indication) for a Beracha of accomplishment to follow.
This explains the Gemara at the end of Makkos 24b. The Gemara teaches תלה הכתוב נבואתו של זכריה that we make the Nevuah L’tov of Zecharya Talui בנבואתו של אוריה in the Nevua of ציון שדה תחרש, the Nevua of destruction. עכשיו שנתקיימה נבואתו של אוריה, בידוע שתתקיים נבואתו של זכריה. It seems to imply that the Nevua L’tov and the Nevua L’ra are dependent one in the other.
However, a Nevua L’ra is Chozeir, meaning a Nevua L’ra doesn’t have to happen necessarily; a Nevua L’tov does. So how can it be that the Nevua of Zecharya L’tov is dependent on the Kiyum of the Nevua L’ra of Uri’ah that may not ultimately occur? The answer is that the source of Beracha is destruction. העדר הוא סבת הווייתו. When you lack something, then you can accomplish it. When you feel you are missing something, then you can work to accomplish it. Conversely, if you don’t feel anything missing, then there won’t be motivated to work and to accomplish. So, the Nevua of Zecharya was L’tov; to get to Tov, a person should experience a Nefila and strive thereafter.
As a matter of fact, the Gemara Sanhedrin 96b teaches that Rav Nachman used to refer to Mashiach as ‘Bar Nafli,’ one of the fallings. Rav Yitzchak said Bar Nafli, the one who falls, the one who stumbles – is that how we should refer to Mashiach? He answered affirmatively that G-d would rebuild the fallen Succas Dovid HaNofales.
How does that prove that Mashiach is called Bar Nafli? Says the Maharal, because Nefila is the Sibah for Kiyum. When a person has a time of difficulty, that’s when he can endeavor to accomplish and achieve.
He continues that’s the reason that Kol HaMisabeil Al Yerushalayim Zoche V’raah Es Nechamaso. Simply put, if you mourn over Jerusalem, you get Schar, and then can be Zoche to see Es Nechamaso. Says the Maharal no, the Yesod is that if you are not Misabeil, you don’t feel something is missing, then the significance of the later accomplishments won’t come to fruition.
The Chumash tells us that the ultimate purpose of our Exodus from Mitzrayim was to receive the Torah seven weeks later. We left Mitzrayim and willingly followed G-d into a barren desert, lacking everything except faith that our needs would be met. As a reward for putting ourselves in that vulnerable position in which we completely relied on HKBH in this irrational way, we were granted the Bracha of the Mon, miraculous sustenance that stemmed from that which was missing.
The Sfas Emes teaches that Shabbos is a weekly testimony to this idea. It’s the one day when creative activity is prohibited; we purposely have one day where we lack in activity. Yet, Chazal teaches that the six days of the week receive their blessing from Shabbos, from that day that lacks activity. By refraining from work and believing that this day off will not harm our sustenance, the work we do during the remaining six days of the week receives its fulfillment and blessing.
The lacking is the Sibah for what comes later; from falling, you can pick up the pieces and make something of it. But, on one condition — Kol HaMisabeil Al Yerushalayim — you need to realize that you’re missing something. Only then can you pick up the pieces and build something positive from them.
So, the Tochacha, the Onshim of Klal Yisrael, are negative but are also a Sibas Havaya. When we go through traumatic and unusual experiences, it’s an Avodah to try to pause, reflect, and understand. However, if we can succeed even the slightest in this Avodah, it can serve as a rare opportunity as a catalyst for Aliyah. The Tochacha is Sibas Havaya. It’s what can enable us to grow and improve as we strive to rebuild.