Today, on Tisha Be'av, my 6-year old son decided to have a tantrum.
He ran around the house, making a huge mess. Within five minutes, every pillow from the couches was on the floor, toys were thrown everywhere, chairs upturned, and the chase was on. My husband, bless him, controlled his anger heroically since he knew that to get angry during a fast, especially on Tisha Be'av, is spiritually risky business. I was not so successful in controlling my emotions, since I made a grab for my son's ear (and thankfully missed) and so watched the goings-on from a safe distance.
My husband ended up (miraculously, in my by-now-fuming eyes) making the chase fun, by being a big, slow, monster, and it ended with my son cleaning up all the mess by himself, without being asked, about 20 minutes later. Phew.
As I watched my son heave the heavy couch pillows back into place, I suddenly realised something, and I silently thanked Hashem for letting me see the good in the tantrum. It took my son about 5 minutes to easily tear the place apart. It took him about 20 minutes to clean it all up.
I said to my son, you see, it's harder to clean up than to make a mess, right? He nodded his head.
I told him, it's like with the Yehudim, the Jews: it's easy for us to be mean to each other, but it can take a while to say sorry. The Temple burned down quickly because of our sinat hinam, from not being nice to each other: but it's taken us more than 2000 years to re-build it. That's a very long time.
I don't know if he got the message, but somehow, I found a little holiness in his little Tisha Be'av Tantrum.
It may be hard to clean up our mess, but it IS possible.