Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Monday, August 15, 2011

15th of Av - A Time to Start Building

This morning after davening the Rebbe, shlit"a, spoke about the 15th of Av, one of the happiest days in the year. The Mishna (Taanis 26b) tells how the young girls of Yerushalayim would go out to the vineyards and eligible young men would meet them there in hopes of finding prospective brides. The girls would say, “Young man, lift up your eyes and see what you choose for yourself. Do not set your eyes on beauty but set your eyes on [good] family. ‘Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised'.
The Gemara (ibid. 31a) gives us some further details about what exactly they would say. The "yefeifiyos" (יפיפיות), literally pretty ones, would say, "Set your eyes on beauty (יופי), for a woman is only for beauty." Those of prestigious families would say, "Set your eyes on [good] family, for a woman is only for children." The unsightly among them would say, "Take [us] for the sake of Heaven, provided that you surround us with gold."

The Rebbe said we have to realize that the young men and women that were involved in this custom were not just run-of-the-mill people. From the very fact that they had to tell the boys to lift up their eyes implies that these were top-notch bochurim who were not accustomed to being in the company of young ladies and were careful about shemiras einayim, guarding one's eyes.
Each group of girls was trying to tell the bochurim what they each had to offer a growing yiddisheh home.

The Rebbe pointed out that the word used in the Mishna for beauty is "noy" (נוי), but in clarifying which girls said what, the Gemara chose the word "yofi" (יופי). "Noy" means beauty that can be seen, outer beauty. The connotation of "yofi", however, is one of completion, inner character fulfillment. We wish a chasan and kallah "az der zivug zohl oleh yafeh zein", that their marriage "go up well". When Chazal say "Yafeh sha'ah achas b'teshuvah umaasim tovim", the implication is "better" or "closer to that which is good".

This first group was saying, "We can bring you to your perfection. Think about "yofi", about what you are supposed to become. We have the sensitivities and the understanding to help you reach that potential."

The second group said, "Focus on good family traits. You want to raise a proper yiddisheh family, on solid Torah values? We come from such families and know what goes into making such children."

The third group, the m'chuaros - the "ugly" ones also were pointing to something very important. The Rebbe said that there is no such thing as an ugly bas Yisroel. These girls were referring to the fact that they did not think highly of themselves, that they were in touch with the shivron lev, the brokenheartedness characteristic of many a serious oved Hashem. They were familiar with the yearning for more, to be better, to be closer to Hashem. If supplemented with the right dose of self-worth as well, knowing beyond any convincing that one is "unseemly", at least to themselves, is the foundation that a future could be built on, a future that is devoted to nothing but "l'shem shomayim", the sake of Heaven, to be constantly looking for an ever-closer relationship with Hashem.

Chazal say that forty days before the forming of a fetus, it is announced in Heaven who they are destined to marry. We know that Creation began on the 25th day of Elul, as man was created on Rosh Hashana, six days later. Forty days before the initial "forming" of Creation was the 15th day of Av. Without getting too deep into it, there is a clear connection between the 15th of Av and the shidduch of the world, so to speak; the building of the home of Creation begins on the 15th of Av. There is something about this day which speaks to focusing on what we need in order to build ourselves, our families, our world.

Elul is fast approaching and in the blink of an eye it will be the Days of Awe. We have the 15th of Av to prepare ourselves for the coming forty days. We must reflect on which traits we are going to need to acquire, and what the things that we have made a part of our lives have brought us (both good and bad), in order to rebuild the building of Creation on Rosh Hashana, globally and in a very intimate, personal sense.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I've been perusing your site with spiritual relish ever since I discovered it last week Thursday. Had I known that there was a repository online of the Rebbe's teachings and current events six months ago, I'd have had less emptiness then too. It wasn't meant to be min HaShamayim. This post alone has been quite uplifting. Keep this New Yorker, far from Milwaukee, inspired. Thank you!