When the most trusted advisor to a powerful king stood accused of rebelling against his majesty, it sent shockwaves throughout the kingdom.
The infuriated monarch ordered the advisor be put on trial and, after the charges were proven to be true, he was sentenced to death.
Shortly before the sentence was to be carried out, the king recalled the exemplary devotion that this advisor had shown him in the past, and the close personal relationship they had shared for so long. The king also took into consideration the great affection he had for this advisor’s father and grandfather. At the last possible moment, the king granted the advisor an absolute pardon, not only allowing him to live, but wiping his slate clean and keeping him on in his important position.
Almost immediately thereafter, the advisor committed another transgression against the king, this one even more serious than the first. Once again he was put on trial and sentenced to death.
Once more the sentence was about to be carried out when the king changed his mind and not only issued a royal pardon, but showed his advisor great warmth and affection.
“Tell me,” the king asked the advisor. “What got into you that you should engage in such foolish conduct? You are a wise and intelligent person, and yet, if not for my feelings for you and the familial connection, you would have been executed for your acts of rebellion!”
“Your royal majesty,” the advisor replied, “I knew well the extraordinary relationship we have, and my feelings of loyalty to you have never wavered. However I was also aware of the extreme feelings of jealously that the other ministers felt toward me because of this relationship. On a daily basis, they would do all they possibly can to either try to convince me to commit a crime against you that would cost me my life, or to try to falsely convince you that I was rebelling against you — and then too I would be put to death for a crime. Either way I realized that unless I do something drastic, my days were numbered.
I decided to do something that overtly will look like an act of rebellion — though in my heart I remained completely loyal. My proof is in the fact that rebels invariably cleaved to each other and act in concert, while throughout this process I have remained alone, despised by all.
My reasoning was that if I will be executed for my deeds, at least I will know that my conscience is clear, as in my heart I remained loyal. At the same time, since from the outside it did appear that I did a dastardly crime, the honor of the king would remain intact.
If, however, the king — even after I repeated my transgression twice — would find room in his heart to forgive me, this would silence my persecutors once and for all. For it proved that our relationship is so strong, nothing they would do would possible destroy it.
The king was highly impressed and very touched by his advisor’s words.
The 17th of Tammuz and, therefore, Tishah B’Av as well, fall out this year on Sunday.
It is our cherished hope, however, that we won’t end up fasting after all. Not only will they no longer be fast days when Moshiach comes, but these day will actually be Yamim Tovim.
For as the Navi Zechariah (8:19) tells us “Thus said Hashem … The fast of the fourth [month], the fast of the fifth [month], the fast of the seventh [month] and the fast of the tenth [month] will to Beis Yehudah for joy and gladness and Moadim tovim …”
The fast of the fourth month refers to Shivah Assar B’Tammuz, the fasts of the fifth refers to Tishah B’Av. (The other two refer to Tzom Gedaliah and Asarah B’Teves respectively.)
Why indeed did the Ribbono shel Olam, in His infinite wisdom, see fit that a day set aside for fasting and teshuvah should become a Yom Tov? Why shouldn’t it remain an eternal remembrance of the fact that we sinned and the importance of teshuvah?
One approach is that when the Bnei Yisrael sinned with the egel and then again with the Meraglim, their intent wasn’t to rebel against Hashem. Rather, like the advisor in the story, they did so in response to the extreme jealousy of the other nations and the constant attempts by the evil inclination to entrap them.
When the Ribbono shel Olam, in His infinite mercy and love for us, forgave Bnei Yisrael, He showed the entire world that the bond between Hashem and the Bnei Yisrael was an unbreakable one, and no one and nothing could destroy this relationship.
Therefore, when Moshiach will come, these days — symbolic of this love — will become Yamim Tovim to celebrate the special relationship we have with our Creator.
(Adapted from a teaching of the Chasam Sofer.)