The Tisha B’Av Message the Rebbe Appreciated

After Rabbi Yisroel Rubin was unable to attend this year’s regional Chabad Kinus due to his illness & recovery, his sons decided to reprint an earlier booklet of his scholarship in the merit of which he should have a refuah shleima.

After Rabbi Yisroel Rubin, Shliach to Capital District Albany, NY was unable to attend this year’s regional Chabad Kinus conference in Ossining NY due to his illness and recovery, his sons decided to reprint an earlier booklet of his scholarship in the merit of which he should have a refuah shleima.

Rabbi Rubin has written a number of original Torah thoughts, one of which most famously got positive feedback from the Rebbe after being printed in the “Jewish World” newspaper in the 80s. This article entitled “Tisha B’Av has Two Sides to it!” was published in the corner of the newspaper on black with white letters on the front, and on white background with black letters on the back (see photos below). This was to illustrate that while the day of Tisha B’Av is indeed a dark day on the Jewish calendar it is also a day of hope as seen in the Talmudic story of Rabbi Akiva at the end of tractate Makkos. It was fitting to receive the positive feedback from the Rebbe, because the original inspiration for Rabbi Rubin’s thoughts actually stemmed from a farbrengen with the Rebbe in the summer of 1964.

At this farbrengen, the Rebbe explained the Talmud with Rabbi Akiva visiting the site of Beis Hamikdash at great length, with many detailed questions, and passionate answers. “This was a turning point in my father’s Talmudic study, as it was a dazzling eye-opener for him about the meaningful connections between the personal lives and public Torah teachings of these Talmudic scholars. This has since become a cornerstone of my father’s style of Torah learning.” Rubin’s son shared. “It jumpstarted my father’s avid interest in this area and style of Torah learning and teaching, which he continued to develop from his yeshiva years throughout his decades as a communal rabbi, school dean, and author.”

In addition to republishing the Tisha B’av message, Rabbi Rubin’s sons republished another collection of his writings to distribute at the Kinus Hashluchim.

Since the regional kinus took place during the three weeks, the booklet his sons chose to publish is a collection of essays on matters pertaining to the Beis HaMikdash. The sons chose to keep the original title of this booklet, Kahn Bonim, meaning Construction Zone, or Under Construction.

Rabbi Rubin was very touched by the printing of his work but was afraid that people wouldn’t appreciate the title. One of Rabbi Rubin’s sons decided to pose the title to friends to make sure they understood what the title was trying to explain. The first response he received was the red-bordered illustration which reads: Warning/Caution: Construction Zone! (See photo below)

Indeed, while a construction message, this red-bordered illustration is more in-line with the caution, concern, and subdued feelings that are traditionally observed around the time of the 3 Weeks and the Nine Days.

“This picture, however, made it clear that this was not imparting the message my father was looking for,” Rubin’s son said. “Yes, we mourn, but the attitude in Chabad, and Rebbe’s vision is always more of an uplifting one.”

Instead, of restraint, caution, and concern, to better capture the spirit of Rabbi Rubin’s Kahn Bonim title, think of it more in the spirit of the blue-bordered illustration that reads: Pardon our Appearance, We are Under Construction. (see photo below) This sees the 3 Weeks and the 9 Days not only as a time of destruction but under construction!

Excuse our appearance recognizes that we’re in an imperfect state, in-between things, not fully functional. The space might be limited or messy, certainly far less than ideal. Construction can close off rooms, close off a lane, or even shut off the water. But it’s not a negative. It is part of a positive, constructive process.

The Rebbe sees the construction zone via a figurative reading from the laws of Shabbos, “destruction for the sake of construction” is considered construction, even if it doesn’t appear that way at first. To the Rebbe, the focus of 3 Weeks and 9 Days was indeed Kahn Bonim, we’re seeking & working on rebuilding the Temple! We’re working towards redemption, and our efforts are forward and future-focused, not only mournfully dwelling on what was lost in the past.

You can download a copy of Kahn Bonim below: Published for a refuah sheleima for R’ Yisrael Eliezer ben Yocheved Miriam.

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