During the Three Weeks, we revisit and repair any breach that may threaten the integrity of our Yiddishkeit. But there’s another kind of wall that we should be breaking during this time.
By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier
One of the calamities that happened on Shivah Asar B’Tammuz, R”l was that the Romans breached the walls of Yerushalayim. They didn’t destroy the walls entirely, but this breach eventually led to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.
As we commemorate this event let’s reflect on its meaning for us today.
Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash represent the holy establishment of Yiddishkeit. Surrounding Yiddishkeit there must be a wall, as Chazal say, asu syag laTorah, make a fence around Torah. The Yetzer Hara tries to make little of these walls, arguing that as long as we still do Torah and mitzvos we don’t need to set up extra protection. But Shivah Asar B’Tammuz reminds us just how important these walls are and inspires us to revisit and repair any breach that may threaten the integrity of our Yiddishkeit.
On the flip side, there are times when a breach in certain walls that we’ve erected is called for.
We often meet Yidden who need, and perhaps even want, to enter “Yerushalayim” but there’s a wall separating them from those on the inside. These walls may be constructed by us— our preoccupation with ourselves and our families, or our prejudices to those on the outside—or they might have been built by those on the outside. When all conventional passages are closed, a special effort is called for. We must create a breach in the wall separating us from our fellow Yid, and invite them in.
Similarly with regards to interpersonal relationships—a spouse, a shul member or co-worker. We sometimes do or say things which gradually build up barriers. Ironically, it’s often with the people we care most about. Can we be the first to breach the wall? In many instances, even a small gesture can pierce the seemingly impenetrable walls and open the path to full reconciliation.
When the Rebbe and Rebbetzin got married, the Rebbetzin’s father was not allowed to enter Russia and the Rebbe’s father was not allowed to leave. They ended up getting married in Warsaw, Poland, and the Rebbe’s parents were not able to attend.
In her diary, the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Chana, writes:
“It was 1928. Anti-religious propaganda was extremely intense, although several synagogues and a Jewish religious community still existed [in Dnepropetrovsk]. By that time, [even independent] left-wing parties no longer existed.
“The authorities had already confiscated half of our apartment, leaving us only three rooms. The larger portion of the apartment, of course, was given to the new neighbors.
“Although the groom and bride were not with us, we wanted to celebrate on that day. To rent a hall was no longer possible at that time. Our neighbor, an engineer, couldn’t bear the Orthodox Jewish practices in our home. For example, a considerable number of Jews still came to listen to the Chassidic discourses [my husband delivered on Shabbos], and many attended his Yom Tov farbrengens. So our neighbor isolated himself from us, keeping his apartment totally separate from ours.
“Somehow, however, our neighbor heard in town that we wanted to hold a celebration to mark the wedding. For our benefit, he broke through a wall between the apartments, opening his apartment to ours. He removed all his furniture and moved out as well, giving us the use of his apartment for as long as we would need. Our original large room had been allotted to our neighbor, so now we had an extensive area [to use for the celebration].
“We sent out invitations and the celebration gave everyone in town the opportunity to show their respect towards my husband. The spiritual aura [of the event] was so intense that it seemed to assume the character not of a personal celebration but of a religious demonstration.
“Guests came from neighboring towns, family members, of course, and we received several hundred telegrams. The evening event at home was attended by representatives of the central Jewish community of our region. Every synagogue, even if it had relatively few members, sent representatives, many of them accompanied by their wives.
“Keep in mind that this took place at a time when any contact with clergymen was forbidden, and such a crime could cost one their job. Nevertheless, no one held back, and a large number of prominent doctors and attorneys, who held important positions in the local ispolokom headquarters and the municipality, came and celebrated with us all night.
We should never underestimate a Yid’s ability or willingness to breach the walls that try to destroy Yiddishkeit.
May we merit to see the walls of galus breached and the walls of the Beis HaMikdash and Yerushalayim, both literal and figurative, rebuilt in all their glory, very soon.
 Likutei Sichos vol. 23 pg. 291
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