Rabbi Elazar travelled to Rabbi Yosi, the son of Rabbi Shimon, son of Lakunya, his father-in-law. As soon as he saw him, he spread carpets over planks of wood and prepared a canopy [to block out the sun] under which they both sat. His father-in-law asked him if, by any chance, he had learned from his father the meaning of the verse: "G‑d has done that which He devised, He has performed his word that He commanded in the days of old." (Lamentations 2:17)

He answered: Our colleagues have already explained it. (Vayikra Raba 86) "He has performed (in Hebrew, 'bitza') His word (in Hebrew, 'imra')" means that He ripped (in Hebrew, 'batza', lit. sliced) His precious cloak1 [referring to the Name Ado-nai] "that He commanded in the days of old" [that the Name Ado-nai cloak the Name Havayah when in a state of union] from the supernal days of old [during the influence of Arich Anpin].

On the day the Temple was destroyed, He ripped His cloak, for it is His honor and perfection. "And He ripped it." [Due to the sins of Israel, the unification of Zeir Anpin and Nukva was ripped and separated and He destroyed the Temple; to repair it, Zeir Anpin must complete malchut]

He asked, "G‑d has done that which He devised." Is this the way of a king to devise evil against his sons even before they have sinned? And he answered: It is like a king who had a precious vessel and was constantly afraid that it might one day break. So he kept watch over it, and it was fitting in his perspective. One day the king’s son came along and made him angry. So the king took his precious vessel and smashed it. That is why it says "that which He has devised."

Come and see: from the day the Temple was built, G‑d used to watch over it and greatly rejoice over it. And He used to fear that Israel might sin and cause the Temple to be destroyed. So every time He came to the Temple, He wore a precious cloak [the secret of the unity of Zeir Anpin and malchut]. But when Israel sinned and made the King furious, the Temple was destroyed and He tore His cloak apart [i.e. separated the unification of Zeir Anpin and malchut/Nukva]. That is the meaning of "G‑d has done that which He has devised..." [i.e. separated the union].

"His word (in Hebrew, ‘imrato’)" as mentioned, at the beginning was sitting at the crown of the tree (in Hebrew, ‘amir’). And the King crowned Himself with it and thus had before him a "beautiful tree;"; this was the case in ancient times, for sure. But then [i.e. after the Destruction] there was sadness before Him, certainly in the external houses, as the verse reads: "Behold, the valiant ones shall cry without." (Isaiah 33:7)

"And on that day G‑d Tzeva'kot called [to weeping, to mourning, to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth.]" (Isaiah 22:12) This refers to that day when the Temple was destroyed. But at other times, there is no greater joy for G‑d than when the wicked of the world who provoke Him are removed from this world. As it is written: "And when the wicked perish there is joy." (Prov. 11:10) So in each generation, when judgment is executed on the wicked of the world, there is joy and songs before G‑d.

And if you claim that we learned that there is no joy before G‑d when He passes His judgment on the sinners, come and see: when judgment is delivered on the wicked, there is joy and exultation before Him because they are removed from this world. But, when is there joy? When the time that He has waited for them is over, and they have not returned from sinning to Him. But if judgment is delivered on them before their time has come, and the measure of their sins has not yet been completed, it is, as it is written: "the iniquity of the Emori is not yet full." (Gen. 15:16) Thus, there is no joy. And there is grief before Him because of their destruction.

But, you might ask: If their time has not come yet, then why should judgment be delivered on them? Because it is they who inflict the punishment on themselves, for the G‑d would never punish them before their time has come. Because they approach Israel in an effort to harm them, He passes His judgment on them and entirely removes them from the world before their time is up. And this is when there is grief before Him. This is also the reason why He drowned the Egyptians in the sea and destroyed the enemies of Israel in the days of Jehoshaphat. They were all destroyed before their time because they wanted to harm the nation of Israel.

So only when the time is completed, when He waits for them and they till have not mended their ways, is there exaltation before Him when they are destroyed from the world. The only exception was the time when the Temple was destroyed, because even though their time for angering Him had expired, there was no joy before Him. From that time onward, there has been happiness neither above nor below.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: What does this mean to you, and why is it being revealed right now?

During these 3 Weeks of Mourning, the loss of our Holy Temple is felt most acutely. The rituals we do all year long—the breaking of a glass at a wedding, leaving a small part of a new house unfinished, reciting Psalm 137 after a weekday meal—all pale in comparison to the restrictions we incorporate during these 22 days. For though we are mourners year round, it is during "Bein Metzarim", between the stresses of 17 Tammuz and 9 Av, that we focus most intently.

But all this mourning will be for naught unless we do some building within, the building of a place inside our heart for the Shechinah to dwell. And that is by joyously breaking one's heart—humbling one's Ego, and realizing that there is a Greater Force that is beyond our material world. The repair of the Olam begins with the repair of the Nefesh. We need to do some internal work, some internal healing, to remove a bit of the wicked inside. Love yourself, love others, and you will help to weave a garment that unites us all as one, Am Israel Chai.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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