Sunday, July 15, 2007

Nachem Nowadays II

Last year, I posted a summary of the positions on reciting Nachem on Tisha B'Av nowadays (link). On thinking about it, I've become more understanding of the view that we should change the prayer or at least allow people to change it privately. Not that I am advocating such position, but I think I understand them better.

The Gemara (Yoma 69b) relates how Jeremiah and Daniel deviated from Moshe's formulation of prayer ("Ha-Kel Ha-Gadol Ha-Gibor Ve-Ha-Nora") because they saw destruction and exile that seemed to contradict God's greatness and awesomeness. The Gemara explains that God's seal is truth and these two sages could not bring themselves to lie about him. R. Eliyahu Dessler (Michtav Me-Eliyah, vol. 3 p. 276) explains that both Jeremiah and Daniel believed in God's greatness and awesomeness. However, because of what they saw they could not truly feel it and therefore could not honestly say it, even though they believed it to be true.

R. Chaim Friedlander (Sifsei Chaim, Mo'adim vol. 3 p. 253 n. 3) adds that the Mishnah (Berakhos 54a) says that we make the blessing "ha-tov ve-ha-meitiv" on good news and "dayan ha-emes" on bad news. But the Gemara (Pesachim 50a) says that in the Messianic Era, we will only recite "ha-tov ve-ha-meitiv". The explanation for this is that we currently do not see God's hand and see certain news as bad, when really it is always good. In the Messianic Era, we will realize that everything is for the best and always recite "ha-tov ve-ha-meitiv". If that is the case, asks R. Friedlander, why don't we who believe this to be true always recite "ha-tov ve-ha-meitiv" even now? Because even if we believe it, we don't really feel it. And for the same reason as above, we can't lie to God and contradict our feelings.

For this reason, I can understand and respect -- even if I disagree with them -- those who feel uncomfortable reciting in a prayer that the city of Jerusalem is destroyed when based on what they see, it has been rebuilt.

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