The Mystery of Bein Hametzarim – The Seeds of Redemption

          Bein Hametzarim – “between the tragedies.” Caught in the vise between – the 17th of Tamuz and the 9th of Av – days in which our Bais Hamikdash was destroyed as well as many other calamities befell us – it is difficult to perceive any redeeming aspect of this tragic period. However, we have long understood the spiritual value that lies within adversity.  For example Chazal inform us of the benefits we derived from our period of bondage in Mitzraim, which prepared us for the next level in the service of Hashem. In Mitzrayim we were given the opportunity to extract precious sparks of holiness that only the most challenging of events and epochs could release.  

          Let us try to reveal a redemptive, positive view of this difficult period that we re-visit each year at this time. Perhaps one of the “keys” to releasing ourselves from personal and national bondage lies, ironically, in the name for the period – “Bein Hametzarim”.

               Why is this time called “between the tragedies” and not “the time of tragedies”? The nature of many people, when beset by difficult challenges, is that they tend to become overwhelmed and even imprisoned in their own personal “bars” of anguish and hopelessness. Yet, many of us know those exceptional people who, in seemingly overwhelming circumstances, are able to overcome restrictions focusing not on the bars – of limitation – but on the spaces “between” them – the inner messages that offer new vistas of growth and change which are encoded “within” the challenges.

          Chazal have foretold that one day the inner lights of these days called Bein Hametzarim will be unveiled revealing the crowning gem, our long awaited Moshiach, whose birth  date is the 9th of Av (Yerushalmi, Brachos).

            Sfas Emes tells us that the ten ma’amoros (sayings) with which the world was created world were later channeled in Mitzraim through the ten makot and finally revealed in the form of the Ten Commandments.[1] These ten sayings were the Divine D.N.A. that G-d used to formulate the world.  Had mankind cooperated and obeyed Hashem’s commandments, the world would have achieved perfection; however because of the various sins throughout the generations, a process of purification was deemed necessary including the ten plagues (makot) for the Mitzrim (at  the same time that the Jewish people were the recipients of blessings) that led eventually to the exodus.        

          However, since freedom from physical bondage was not the final goal, the benevolent Creator led us to Har Sinai and gave us the Torah whose essence is coded within the ten commandments. 

                 Perhaps we can draw a parallel from this to draw another connection among numbers: the twenty-two osios of the Torah, twenty-two days of Bein Hametzarim and to twenty-two of our holiest days. As is well known the entire creation was and continues to exist through the twenty-two holy osios of the Torah. However, due to the ongoing failings of mankind, specifically the Jewish people have designated to be a holy nation charged with rectifying and elevating the whole Creation. We are assigned at times to descend into the darkest, most dangerous realms of time in the calendar year[2]  in order to reveal the inner radiance their intrinsic holiness. It is specifically during the depths of the frigid winter referred to as SHOVAVIM (TAT), during which the Torah reading retells of the bondage of our forefathers, that we can access the spiritual “genetics” necessary to rectify not only that period but all challenging times. This lofty goal is achievable through the dynamic vibrant power contained within the twenty-two aliyot of the Torah beginning with the story of Moshe Rabbinu and the burning bush (sneh) (the forth aliya in Parshas Shemos), ( then seven aliyas each in Parshas Va’eira and Parshas Bo) and ending with the splitting of the Yam Suf (forth aliya of Pashas Beshalach) for a total of twenty-two aliot.

         It is specifically through the Torah, our spiritual catalyst, that even during the most  twenty-two searing intense summer days of Bein Hametzarim will be transformed in the near future into days of joy. Adhering to the Torah’s prescriptions will enable us to make the transition from the grip of stifling bondage to new heights of freedom in days of Divine radiance. Each and every day of the Bein Hametzarim period contains within it the seeds – the inner essence – of twenty-two of our holiest days.  [3]

          May all of us merit to see, feel and experience the blessings encoded within each and every one of these days, thereby transcending the galus of limitation to arrive at the ultimate geulah.

[1]  S’fas Emes in the name of his grandfather the Chidushei Ha’rim.

[2]  The Bnei Yisaschar brings a Zohar that Yaakov Avinu received the portion (control) of Nisan, Eyar and Sivan while his brother Esau received control of the summer months of  Tamuz, Av ( the months of Bein Hamitzarim)  and Elul. (Ma’amrei Chodesh Tamuz-Av, Ma’amar alef, s’eef vav.) I also heard that Yaakov Avinu also received in addition the portion of the months of Thisre, Chesvon and Kislev whereas Esau received the portion of the strongest winter months of Tevet, Shevat ( the months of  Shovavim -Tat) and Adar. Only later did Yaakov Avinu take Elul and Adar into his realm of holiness.

[3]           Parshas Pinchas, read at this time, contains the mitzvot of theYamim Tovim, indicating that there is a connection between the Yamim Tovim and Bein Hametazarim. Additionally, the twenty two days from Shivah Asar B’Tammuz through the Tisha B’Av parallel the twenty two days from Rosh Hashanah to Shmini Atzeres (which are also twenty-two days) and through this connection the days of Bein Hametzarim are drawn up and sweetened. (Parshas Pinchas – 24 & 25).


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