The Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 555 writes that the custom is to sleep on a stone during the night of Tisha B’av. The reason brought is because Yaakov Avinu also slept on a stone which was taken from the place of the future Bais Hamikdash when he had the revelation of the Ladder and he saw the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. We would like to present another reason for the stone on Tisha B’av and its implications all the way back to the beginning of creation.The passuk in Yirmiyahu says (2, 27) אומרים לעץ אבי אתה ולאבן את ילדתנו  they say to the tree you are our father and to the stone you gave birth to us. Even though the objects of wood and stone detailed in the passuk refer to idols, we can explain them in an esoteric understanding.

In Avos it says קנאה מוציא את האדם מן העולם  that the middah of jealousy removes a person from the world. In the simple understanding this is to be interpreted that if one possesses jealousy he has no life as Shlomo Hamelech says in Mishlei (14,30) ורקב עצמות קנאה that through jealousy one’s bones rot. In the very beginning of creation Hashem Himself was worried about this middah and for this reason He created Man from heaven and earth (Bereishis 2,7 Rashi) lest one day would be jealous of the other. Nevertheless, jealousy raised its ugly head with the Nachash who envied Adam’s kovod giving to him by the Malachim (Sanhedrin 59b). The Nachash took his middah and infused Adam and Chavah with it by telling them that if you eat from the Aitz Hadaas, the Tree of Knowledge you can be a creator just like Elokim who is afraid of your competition. They became jealous of Hashem’s knowledge and transgressed His command. It is very fascinating that the word קנא  sounds exactly like know. The first jealousy of Man was an envy of Hashem’s knowledge of which the Nachash told them He acquired from the Aitz Hadaas.

Furthermore the Baal Haturim explains the passuk (Bereishis 3,6 Rashi) היא נתנה לי מן העץ ואכל  “She gave me from the tree and I ate” that Adam was beaten by his wife with a branch from the Aitz Hadaas tree until he agreed to eat its fruit. The reason being that Chavah was jealous that if she died because of her transgression maybe Adam will marry someone else.

We see two messages from this episode. That it was a trail of jealousy starting with the Nachash, then Adam and Chavah, that removed Man from this world. Secondly, that the middah of jealousy that caused this death took the form of wood, the lure of the Aitz Hadaas, and its branch with which Chavah coerced Adam to eat from it.

The second incident of jealousy which also took man out of this world was with Kayin who killed his brother because of it. Kayin was jealous of Hashem’s acceptance of Hevel’s korban and not his. He was also jealous that Hevel owned all the possessions in the world while he himself only owned the land. The Medrash states that Kayin pounded Hevel with a stone many times until he succumbed to his wounds and died. We can say that the second act of envy that amounted in death was by a stone.

Both related incidents of jealousy are hinted in the passuk מי יעלה בהר ה’ הר גמטריא אדם קיןThere is a mountain to climb in life and that is the mountain of jealousy. Every step of our journey until 120 years is laced with encounters of things and people that will test our emunah in Hashem instead of triggering a festering jealousy of others. This mountain was formed initially by אדם and קין and it until today we are challenged with ascending this mountain warding off desires such as “Keep up with the Jones’s”.

With the world of internet we have made ourselves susceptible to always be jealous and never satisfied with what we have. If you just bought shoes, on the internet you will definitely find a cheaper price someplace else. You will definitely find nicer shoes somewhere else that you regret not buying instead. You just went on vacation and you see an advertisement The Ten Best Vacations. You dare click the enter button and see what they call paradise, the most beautiful clear blue refreshing water with snorkeling surrounded by palm trees, and you say to yourself I wish we chose something like that even though you cannot even afford it. Unhappiness nevertheless now resides in you and your beautiful trip suddenly retroactively becomes soured and compromised.

Now let us return to the passuk from Yirmiyahu that the wood is my father and the wood gave birth to me. The passuk is alluding to the murderers Adam and Kayin which were associated with wood and stone. One might say to himself that he feels helpless and controlled by jealousy since it is an inborn trait inherited from Adam and Kayin. He is ready to give up climbing what seems like an unsurmountable mountain. However one must also realize that he has inherited emunah from the Avos and emunah that he can work on himself. With this double emunah he will be fortified to climb the mountain by realizing that everything that he receives to complete his mission in life is custom made for him alone, his strengths and weaknesses, his good traits and bad ones, his pluses and minuses, his talents and degree of intelligence. When he accepts this with his double אמונה, 2x אמונה = 205 which is the same gematriah of הר.

If we allow ourselves to become envious we also allow ourselves to harbor anger within our hearts (see Rashi Mishlei 14, 30). Chazal tell us that if one gets angry to the point of breaking vessels it is tantamount to avodah zarah. Therefore jealousy that leads to anger is also tantamount to avodah zarah. Now we can understand the objects of stone and wood mentioned in the passuk on two levels. On the surface they refer to avodah zarah. On the deeper level they symbolize the first two murders in the world spurned by jealousy which is tantamount to avodah zara.

Now we are ready to hear a new interpretation for the word אבן. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabba 34,15)  says on the passuk והסרותי לב האבן מבשרכם ונתתי לכם לב בשר that I will remove the heart of stone from your heart and replace with a heart of flesh. The Medrash interprets the wordבשר  asבוסר  which means sour grapes that are uneatable. The Meforshimexplain that the heart of stone is a jealous heart in contrast to a heart of flesh which despises the possessions of another person.

The Bais Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinaas chinam. A big part of sinaas chinam is derived from jealousy, the heart of stone. As we experience the mourning of Tisha B’av we must think about the source of our Churban which is sinas chinam stemming from jealousy. It is therefore suggested to place a stone under one’s head in order to be conscious of the reason why this day is a day of mourning and that one should daven to Hashem to rid himself of jealousy towards others which displays one’s weakness in emunah.

Yerushalayim is called משוש כל הארץ הר ציון ירכתי ארץ(Tehillim 48 3) the joy of the land the Mountain of Tzion. The Bais Hamikdash was built on a הר for it is the place to bask in emunahs Hashem. With the removal of this middah of jealousy one can easily find joy and happiness with what he has and not with what he has not. להנחיל אוהבי יש  (Mishlei 8,21) those who love Hashem will inherit 310 worlds the gematriah of יש. The lovers of Hashem are those who make themselves happy withיש  – what they have. The gematriah of ציון  is קנאה. Zion is the place on earth which makes accessible איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו  enabling one to focus on his avodas Hashem and not on the frivolities of this fleeting world. May we be zoche to see this reality come to fruition as soon as possible.

Gut Shabbos
Rav Brazil