Giving Tisha Be’av relevance

August 8, 2011 - 12:07 PM by

Worshipers gather on the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem to read 'Aicha.'

Tonight, Israelis both observant and secular will be gathering in synagogues, homes and outdoor meeting places around the country to read ‘Aicha’ – Lamentations, to mark the ninth of Av and the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history.

This year, with the tent protests in full swing demanding ‘social justice,’ there will also be a public reading of Aicha at the Jerusalem tent city at Gan Hasus right in the middle of town, where dozens of people have been living for the past two weeks. Deputy mayor of Jerusalem Naomi Tsur and Rabbi Daniel Landes,
director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies will share some ‘modern messages’ of Tisha Be’av – the former on what it means to be socially and environmentally responsible, and Landes on ‘The Temple is Long Gone – Deal With It!’

For some, Tisha Be’av has become an archaic holiday, seemingly focused on the loss of the Temple and containing no relevance for today – after all, Israel has been reborn and despite its deficiencies is incredibly vital and alive. Why should we fast for 25 hours and lament our losses?

Rabbi Stewart Weiss – the director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana – has a chilling answer to that in an essay in The Jerusalem Post that looks at what happens when you take things for granted – like the existence of Israel.

Each year in recent times, as the ninth of Av approaches, we ask the question: How can we sit and mourn for Jerusalem, when the city has been so magnificently rebuilt? Why do we “afflict” ourselves for 25 hours when we have returned to the Jewish state in amazing numbers, and built a wonderful country from the ground up, with a superb army, world-class universities and a brilliant economy? Has Tisha Be’av become passé? These thoughts were reinforced last week when my wife and I took a Segway tour on the newly-refurbished Armon HaNatziv promenade. Led by our expert guide Chaim, we beheld a magnificent view of Jerusalem rebuilt, with its many sparkling new neighborhoods against the ancient villages and walls of the Old City. From that elevated view, one can truly appreciate how unique our Jewish capital is, and how it so brilliantly melds the past and the future.

Yet despite all this, I will still recite lamentations on Tisha Be’av… and so, with apologies to the History Channel’s “Life After People” series, I ask you to gather up your courage and consider A World Without Israel.

The rest of the essay describes an unlikely but plausible scenario that may prompt anyone who reads it to – if not fully fast and lament for the next 24 hours – to at least contemplate where we are, where we’ve been and where we need to go.

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One Comment on Giving Tisha Be’av relevance

  1. Dueling Eicha’s…with wheels | ISRAELITY on Tue, Aug 9th 2011 9:43 AM
  2. [...] David wrote yesterday, the holiday of Tisha B’av has befallen us (morbid pun intended) and Jews all over the [...]

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