Often times we are our own worst enemies...
Every year as we approach Tisha B’av, the commemoration of the severe calamities that have befallen the Jewish people, I am left with a nagging question about its continued relevance to our lives. How can we on the one hand revel in the beauty, innovation and growth of the modern State of Israel, while on the other hand, fast and mourn over the destruction of the ancient Temples? How can we sit and chant from the book of Lamentations, while we are in the middle of reading Start Up Nation? If we have a vibrant, thriving modern Jewish homeland, why do we still observe this seemingly anachronistic holiday?
I think sometimes we get too bogged down on the results of the destruction and neglect to focus on the root causes of the downfall of the ancient city of Jerusalem and its Temples. We concentrate on the forced expulsion from the land and ignore the underlying reasons for the exile.
Though Jerusalem has been rebuilt bigger and better than it ever was, the actions and behaviors that brought about the horrors of Tisha B’av in 70 CE are unfortunately still at issue today. The Talmud tells us that it was our own conduct that brought about the destruction of the land and expulsion of the population. Sinat chinam, senseless hatred amongst us, was our inevitable downfall. Sadly, sinat chinam continues to permeate the Jewish community. We see it in so many aspects of our Jewish lives from kosher supervision to religious denominations to Jewish organizations. Rather than striving to work together for the Jewish people we find warring factions, competing entities, turf protectors, and silo builders. One need only look at the extreme rhetoric that has been coming out of Israel in regards to equal access to the Kotel and acceptance of conversions performed by liberal Orthodox and Conservative and progressive Reform rabbis.
Perhaps this is the reason to continue the traditions of Tisha b’av. We need to remind ourselves that we have a long way to go in healing the self-inflicted wounds that continue to plague our community.
This year we will come together on Monday evening July 31st at 9 PM for Maariv
(the evening service) and the Tisha B’av liturgy including the chanting of Eicha, the Book of Lamentations. The fast beings at 7:48 PM. We will also have services Tuesday morning August 1st at 7 AM.