1:16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying: “Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.”
The passuk is telling us that part of a judge’s job is to figure out with whom the truth lies.
Many times people are involved in what they are doing to the point that they forget the real purpose, losing the forest for the trees. Sometimes we need some kind of “slap in the face” to wake us up and remind us who we really are. The following story is told about the Noda B’Yehuda.
Two men in a heated argument approached the Noda B’Yehuda in the city of Prague. One man was dressed in the fine clothing that only a rich man would wear, while the other man was dressed in clothes befitting a poor wagon driver. Both men claimed to be the rich man and that the money in the wagon belonged to him, but the man in plain clothes claimed that the other man was his wagon driver who assaulted him on the way, stole his clothing, and now was trying to steal his identity! The Noda B’Yehuda questioned both men, and when he could not determine which one was telling the truth, he told them both to return in the morning.
Both men arrived in the early morning and the gabbai asked each to sit in the Noda B’Yehuda’s waiting room. Unbeknownst to them, the Noda B’Yehuda had told his gabbai to keep both men in the waiting area and under no circumstances were they to be let in until he specifically called for them. Both men sat patiently as the time passed. One hour. Two hours. Three hours. But slowly their patience wore off, and soon they were at their wits end, almost ready to break the Rav’s door down! Then when the men were both most aggravated, the Noda B’Yehuda suddenly opened his door and called out “The wagon drive can come in now!” At this point the man in the fine clothes ran in, while the man in the plain clothing didn’t move. It became obvious that the story of the ambush was true, and the Noda B’Yehuda awarded the clothing and money to the real merchant who was dressed as the driver.
Tisha b’Av also separates between Jews. Sometimes it is hard for us to shake ourselves from our own charade that we created. Many people are caught up in the vogue of the times, forgetting about what is really important to themselves. When they go to a funeral or see someone sick in the hospital, they suddenly remember what is really important. Yet, as soon as they leave that venue, they revert back to who and how they act all the time. This is most unfortunate.
An advantage of the three weeks, nine days and Tisha b’Av, is that it is a long period of time that gradually builds on itself, hopefully becoming a part of you. During this time and especially on Tisha b’Av, you see people crying and we think: “Boy, I wish I could react like that too, and be affected by the day.” In truth, it is not really so hard. Just forget about your other obligations, close your eyes, and think about how having the Beis Hamikdash would let you focus on what is really important in life. By doing so, not only will you make your Tisha b’Av more meaningful, but it could also become the last Tisha b’Av of mourning and cause the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash, may it happen speedily and in our time.