Join the CBI family on Sunday July 26 at 10 AM as we observe Judaism’s day of commemoration of the worst humankind can produce in destructive behavior. This will be our Tisha B’Av/Ninth of Av observance, part of a fast day, whose purpose is different from why we fast on Yom Kippur, which is part of a cleansing and hopeful process vs. a fast of mourning.
In an age when we have witnessed the reemergence of the State of Israel for the third time in Jewish history, some raise the question of Tisha B’Av’s relevance in lamenting the destruction, most vividly, even hauntingly, described in Jeremiah’s Lamentation, which we read on this day. For, now, generations of Hebrew speaking children have lived their lives in the inspiring land of their Ancestors, bringing new light to the world technologically, medically and in so many other ways, including better defense systems.
What makes Tisha B’Av still compelling to engage is its underpinnings, the tradition’s understanding of why the catastrophes, the destructions of both Temples, separated by over 600 years, yet both occurring on the 9th day of Av. According to tradition the first was destroyed because of misbehavior among the folk, whether idol worship or licentious behavior. The implication was that the people had lost their way morally and disregarded Torah teaching and other life affirming principles by which we are mandated to live. In practical terms it reflected a breakdown of infrastructure providing no conditions of trust to be creative in seeking ways to possibly respond to the Babylonian threat.
The 2nd Temple was destroyed because of an illness we see continues to inflict its consequences on society: Sinat Chinam/Causeless/Baseless/Gratuitous Hatred. As I write these words I am still trying to comprehend the cruel destruction of so many beautiful lives as people sat in prayer/study in their holy sanctuary, an historic church in Charlotte…violated so horrifically by one who sat among the church members for an hour with plenty of time to change his mind…that was Sinat Chinam, and it rocks our society.
As we know, there is too much Sinat Chinam/Causeless/Baseless/Gratuitous Hatred evidenced by the numbers of attacks in different places in our country and our world. Causeless Hatred puts us all on alert as we experience security checks not only at the airports but at entertainment programs and wherever large groups gather. In all my student years living in Israel with security check points, i.e. checking bags when entering stores, I didn’t think it would come to the U.S.
So, Tisha B’Av continues to speak to us today. Even with the return of a vibrant Jerusalem, the reading of Jeremiah’s Lament goes beyond losses and gains of the Jewish people. It is a lament for the failure of humankind to appreciate the miracle of being alive in this world and using all our talents, abilities and passions to make of this world a blessing that all might enjoy.
If Sinat Chinam is a sickness, then we must provide or develop resources to address and find cures for such sickness. A first step is to stop being afraid or unaccommodating of someone that is different from you or holds a different belief. Judaism is premised on each of us having our unique relationships with God and that we treasure them all when they teach kindness, caring, goodness and responsibility.
The more comfortable you become in yourself and secure in your identity, the easier and more interesting it will be to listen to another’s point of view. If you find you are not open to someone’s perspective, unless it reflects hurtful qualities, you may not be as secure in your system as you have assumed.
One tangible thing you can do to help:
Write now to the community of Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston to express your condolences at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s talk about the lessons behind the destructions of the Temples, and loss of Jewish governance in the land of Israel, until this era, at our Tisha B’Av commemoration on July 26, which is actually the tenth of Av, not the Ninth, because when it falls on Shabbat, it is postponed. Shabbat takes precedence. We can talk about that as well in terms of prioritization of values.