Said It Before: Tisha B’Av and Ani V’Ata

This Shabbat is Shabbat Hazon with the vision of the destruction. Tisha B’Av, the annual fast day commemorating the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem and our subsequent exile from Israel, is Sunday. According to tradition this day was started due to the sin of the twelve spies (Mishnah Taanit 4:6). The Israelites wept over the false report of the ten spies and in turn this day has become a day of weeping and misfortune.

In his amazing book Em HaBanim Semeichah Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal refutes the anti- Zionism of his Satmar Hungarian Orthodox upbringing and beautifully lays out a vision of redemption realized in a Jewish State of Israel. There he writes:

Our mentor, the Ari z”l, revealed to his disciple , Rabbi Chayim Vital z”l , that when one chooses a mitzvah for which a certain tzaddik sacrificed himself, the soul of that tzadikk comes to his aid. The author of Midrash Shmuel once entered the study hall and [the soul of] the Ari HaKadosh stood before him, as is well known. The same is true today. Yehoshua and Calev sacrificed themselves for aliyah. The entire Jewish nation wanted to stone them, but they said, Let us go up (Numbers 13:30). Similarly, if we sacrifice ourselves for aliyah, the souls of Yehoshua and Calev will come to our aid. This is as clear and true as the Torah of Moshe from the Almighty”.( Em HaBanim Semeichah) 

I was thinking about this deep Torah of Rabbi Teichtal when listening to Arik Einstein’s iconic Ani V’Ata. There he sings:

Ani V'Ata -You and I- We will change the world
You and I- then everyone will come
Others have said it before
It does not matter - You and I will change the world. ( Ani V'Ata)

The entire song assumes that two people can change the world. This echoes the words of Margaret Mead when she said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” But who are the other who have said it before?

Is it possible that the partnership was none other than Yehoshua and Calev. For most of Jewish history we have lamented our having ignored these voices. On one level Einstein is urging us to move past the tragedy of the spies to have hope. On another level he is inviting us to move past the idea of just having hoping for 2000 years. The Modern Jewish State is far from perfect, but it surely not just a dream. Ani V’Ata is a call to action. Will we be like the 10 bad spies or will we answer the call of Tisha B’Av? will you and I move from optimism to activism?

Other post on Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal

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