I heard an incredibly powerful story in the name of Rav Gifter Zt”l, with one of the Maggidei shiurim in yeshivas MIR Yerushalayim.
Rav Gifter had spent a summer in eretz Yisroel and had decided to pay a visit to this magid shiur. In the midst of their conversation, the magid shiur asks Rav Gifter: ‘So nu, tell me-where were you more nisragesh by kever Rochel or the Kosel? Rav Gifter answered, ‘the Kosel.’ ‘And why?’, he was asked. He responded ‘by the kever Rochel it was the feeling of a son to a mother and anybody can relate to it. You don’t need to have any specific feelings or be anyone special because everyone knows the relationship between a son and a mother. However, by the Kosel, its entire existence represents churban. I understand churban because I went through churban!
It’s extremely hard for us, the younger generation, to understand this because we never saw real churban; we can’t grasp it. Having never really experienced a ’churban’, how exactly are we supposed to act and feel about the churban-as if we are mourning it-if we cannot really relate to churban in general?
The answer, I believe, lies within the following story and this is what our hargasha should be based on. Although we cannot visualize and feel the pain of the churban, we know this was the biggest churban and we believe this is the greatest tragedy that ever befell klal Yisroel. As the gemara in Sanhedrin (104b) says, all the pain that we experience nowadays is all an outcome from this churban; every single bit of tzar. The gemara continues and says that when Rabban Gamliel heard his neighbor, who was a widow, crying, he thought about the churban Bais Hamikdash because he understood why she was crying. If not for this churban she wouldn’t be crying at all as she wouldn’t be a widow.
When Israel captured and secured the kosel in 1967 and after everybody made sure that the neighborhood was secure, all the soldiers dropped their weapons and for the first time in years they were actually controlling the holiest place on earth! Every single soldier just started crying and davening, as it was an extremely emotional feeling-as you could imagine. There was one soldier though, who was not only anti frum but he hated everything that had to do with yiddishkeit. He hated Shabbos; he hated kosher; tznius, etc. Yet, at that same moment he was mamish crying his eyes out. One of his fellow soldiers walked over to him, and knew he was extremely anti-frum, and asked him ‘lama atah boche; why are you crying?’ He responded: ‘ani boche al she’ani lo boche; I am crying because I have nothing to cry about!’ That’s why he was crying. He didn’t have any hargashos at that time but he realized that if everyone else did, he probably should have too. Since he didn’t, he realized how lost he really was.
So appropriate; we may not have had anything to do with the previous churban but the fact that we cannot relate to it and are having a hard time mourning it is the reason alone we should cry about it. Even if we are unable to reach the level to mourn the churban bayis, the feeling of us not being able to relate to the greatest tragedy that ever befell us, should be enough of a reason for us to cry.
May we all have an easy fast and iy’h may we be together in Yerushalayim next year on the ninth of Av when it will be a yom tov and we will all rejoice together in the Bayis Shlishi with Moshiach tzidkenu b’miheira v’yameinu, Amen.