Years ago, Rabbi Israel Rubin wrote this creative article about the two sides of Tisha B’Av based on a Talmudic story at the end of tractate Makkot. It was first published in the local “Jewish World” Newspaper (link is to online edition), on two sides, front on back, of a corner of the page: black background with white text on front, and black text on white background on the other side of the page.
Rabbi Groner, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s secretary, called to say that the Rebbe very much enjoyed this article. It is easy to understand why, as it is typical of the Rebbe’s teaching, to seek the positive within the negative, find presence in absence, meaning in mundane. And the Rebbe loved relevant, creative, current Torah application that would reach people.
This whole idea was based on the Rebbe’s farbrengen. In fact, the Rebbe’s farbrengen in summer of 1964, where the Rebbe explained this Talmud story at great length, with much detailed questions, and passionate answers – was a turning point in my father’s (Rabbi Israel Rubin) Talmudic study, as it was a dazzling eye-opener for him about the meaningful connections between the personal lives and public Torah teachings of these Talmudic scholars. This has since become a cornerstone of my father’s style of Torah learning, especially in his scholarly book on the Haggadah and in his Pirkei Avot commentary.