AS: With the Three Weeks and Tishah B’Av approaching, we know a lot about “Darkness.” Tell us about “Dawn” — and how the saddest time of the year is filled with hope.
RDG: When R’ Akiva saw the success of Rome and when he saw the destruction of Yerushalayim, they brought him simchah. He said, “If this is the reward of the wicked, imagine the reward of the righteous. And if Hashem fulfilled the prophecy of destruction, He will fulfill the prophecy of rebuilding.” Hashem’s middah of granting us goodness is hundreds of times greater than when He strikes us with din. So Tishah B’Av gives us a glimpse into the magnitude of acharis ha’yamim. Imagine the happiness in store for us at the Geulah. Similarly, the Navi Yeshaya says, “Hashem’s anger is ‘rega katan,’ a fleeting moment.” If 2,000 years of suffering is a “moment,” then the time of chesed we await — which the Navi calls “eternal” — boggles the mind. Imagine the magnitude of the consolation that’s in store for us.
AS: Your revered grandfather passed away recently. How did he inspire some of the messages of this book?
RDG: Tishah B’av is called a “moed.” What are we celebrating? Tishah B’Av is a celebration of the indomitable spirit, pure emunah, and great bitachon of the Jewish people throughout the ages. R’ Yaakov Emden writes that the greatest miracle is the eternal existence of the Jew, and that’s what Tishah B’Av celebrates. My grandfather, despite seeing the annihilation of European Jewry, emerged with unbending emunah and awaited every moment for the redemption. That kind of emunah is one of the themes of this sefer.
AS: What message does this book have for us today, during the increasingly challenging times we are facing?
RDG: When the Nazis ym’sh were primed to invade Israel in 1942, a group of rabbanim voiced their fears. The Torah institutions of Europe were destroyed, they lamented. What will be with the Jewish people? The Ponovezher Rav answered that though the situation seems bleak, Hashem has promised that His Torah would never be forgotten by His people. It’s specifically at a dark and frightening time that Hashem gives individuals siyata d’Shmaya. And indeed, after the Holocaust there was amazing and miraculous rebuilding of Torah. In times like these, a person who holds fast to the ideals of Torah will get supernatural siyata d’Shmaya.