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Can we nonetheless want Tisha B’Av?

As soon as upon a time, I assumed that God took the summer season off.

I had no thought that there have been Jewish holidays — or, on the very least, observances — till my first summer season on the UAHC (now URJ) Eisner Camp in Nice Barrington, Massachusetts. It was 53 summers in the past (yikes!), the summer season of 1969, and it was to be the primary time I ever heard of Tisha B’Av 

Tisha B’Av is the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. It begins tomorrow night. It’s a quick day that commemorates the destruction of the primary Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and the second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.

Additionally it is the day, which, by sheer historic coincidence nearly each different dangerous factor that occurred in Jewish historical past occurred:

  • In 132 CE, the Romans crushed the Bar Kochba revolt, basically ending Judean independence.
  • In 1095, Pope City II proclaimed what was to be the primary Campaign, which in its first month claimed the lives of ten thousand Jews.
  • In 1290, King Edward I signed the Edict of Expulsion, which expelled the Jews from England.
  • In 1492, the Jews of Spain departed from their homeland, starting the Sephardic Diaspora.

So, regardless of the way you slice it, the ninth of Av is a foul day in Jewish historical past.

Jewish summer season camps revived Tisha B’Av. How might they not? It was the one Jewish vacation that occurred in the course of the summer season months (although observant Jews additionally mark the three weeks previous to that day, going again to the seventeenth of Tammuz, when the Babylonians breached the partitions of Jerusalem).

The truth is, the revival of Tisha B’Av was probably the most essential contributions that Jewish tenting made to the Jewish calendar.

We cherished it. It was a paradox: a darkish day, within the midst of a light-filled summer season; enforced glumness; a dumping of each Jewish historic tragedy in at some point, which gave quite a few programmatic concepts to our counselors, who spent an inordinate period of time developing with methods to scare us all to dying and to make us grateful for being in America – the place Jews would by no means have to be afraid once more.

On the subject of me and Tisha B’Av – I’ll quote the private standing that some folks put up on Fb: “Relationship: sophisticated.”

On the one hand: I take Jewish historical past very severely. I consider in remembering and mourning the moments of our historical past which might be painful. I consider in mourning the truth that the Romans exiled us from our land.

When I’m in Jerusalem on that date, I like to go to the Western Wall plaza and listen to the chanting of the ebook of Lamentations. I’ve heard each ethnic group of the Jewish folks chants Lamentations in their very own melody. It’s a sacred cacophony of the Jewish folks.

Alternatively: the irony additionally embraces me. As I flip my again to the Kotel, and I elevate my eyes, what do I see?

I see the Jewish Quarter of the Previous Metropolis. In 1948, the Arab Legion of Jordan got here into the Previous Metropolis, and so they forcibly expelled its Jewish inhabitants, and so they systematically destroyed the Jewish Quarter.

Right now, while you stroll by means of the Jewish Quarter, you don’t see destruction. You see renovation and even resurrection. You see destroyed synagogues which have risen from their ashes.

Greater than this: Jerusalem is a affluent, booming metropolis. The value of actual property in some neighborhoods approaches that of Manhattan.

So, I discover myself asking the query: Can we trendy Jews nonetheless want Tisha B’Av?

When you have been to ask historians why the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and Judea, these historians could be very clear.

The Judeans had revolted in opposition to the Romans. The Romans needed to cease the revolt. Finish of story.

However, that isn’t how Jews assume. We Jews assume that if one thing dangerous occurs to us, it should be our fault.

And so, the traditional rabbis got here up with an ethical laundry checklist for why we misplaced our independence.

Jerusalem was destroyed… (Talmud), Shabbat 119b:

  • As a result of folks desecrated Shabbat.
  • As a result of they omitted recitation of the morning and night Shema.
  • As a result of they uncared for the training of faculty kids.
  • As a result of folks had no disgrace earlier than one another.
  • As a result of the small and the good have been made equal.
  • As a result of the folks didn’t rebuke each other.
  • As a result of they disparaged the Torah students in it.

Different causes:

  • As a result of they didn’t make a blessing previous to studying the Torah. (Talmud, Bava Metzia 85b)
  • As a result of they dominated in keeping with the letter of the legislation (Talmud, Bava Metzia 30b)
  • Due to sinat hinam — baseless hatred (Talmud, Bava Metzia 30b)

Discover, please: the explanations for the destruction vary from the neglect of formality issues, to the neglect of moral issues.

If I have been to name for a widespread American Jewish revival of Tisha B’Av, I might accomplish that – not as a result of I consider that we have to regularly mourn our historical destructions and heartaches.

Moderately, I might accomplish that as a result of we have to ponder the sins that led to the destruction, and resolve to alter these behaviors.

We have already got Yom Kippur, you might be saying.

However that’s for private sin. Tisha B’Av ought to be about communal sin.

However, not simply the Jews. Right here, now we have one thing to mannequin for America.

Revisit the moral sins that led to the destruction of Jerusalem.

  • As a result of they misplaced their sense of disgrace.
  • As a result of they didn’t admonish one another; they turned their faces away and noticed no evil.
  • Due to sinat hinam — baseless hatred.

Every of these sins exists in America at the moment.

Now we have misplaced our sense of disgrace. We have to regain our disgrace — of what our nation has turn into. Now we have turn into a tradition of entitlement, by which we insist on the very letter of the legislation in the case of our rights, and ignore our duties for the widespread good. We have interaction in sinat chinam –  gratuitous, free-flowing hatred.

Contemplate that drive in our nation, and on the earth, that’s the most weak to distortion — nationalism.

Nationalism is regular, and even fascinating.

However, ultra-nationalism turns into poisonous, as a result of it will probably result in fascism.

Nationalism usually sees the enemy that’s outdoors our borders. This isn’t essentially unhealthy.

Extremely-nationalism solely sees the enemy — that’s inside our borders. Those that are Different – racially different, religiously different, sexually different.

And when our violence turns inward and in the direction of our personal, we’re a tradition and a society that has begun the wretched highway to the circumstances that gave rise to the destruction of Jerusalem.

For these of you who’re followers of Star Wars: Luke Skywalker wanted to know the darkish aspect of the Power.

America wants to know the darkish aspect of the American drive – and that darkish aspect has at all times been white supremacy and the hatred of the Different.

I flip to the phrases of the late Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, who was the primary lady to have served in each homes of Congress.

She spoke these phrases in 1950.

These of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too incessantly those that, by our personal phrases and acts, ignore a few of the rules of Americanism. The fitting to criticize. The fitting to carry unpopular beliefs. The fitting to protest. The fitting of impartial thought. The train of those rights shouldn’t price one single American citizen his fame or his proper to a livelihood nor ought to he be in peril of shedding his fame or livelihood merely as a result of he occurs to know somebody who holds unpopular beliefs. Who of us doesn’t? In any other case none of us might name our personal souls our personal.

Allow us to name our souls our personal.

And, allow us to heal the soul of this nation.

For these of you who quick, might or not it’s straightforward, significant, and redemptive.


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