Reflections On Tisha B’Av
Last week was the official observance of Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av). As defined by Rabbi Mark Washofsky, Tisha B’Av is a “day of fasting and mourning, for the destruction of both the First and the Second Temple in Jerusalem is said to have taken place on that day. While other tragic events in Jewish history may have coincided with the ninth of Av, it is the Temple’s destruction (churban habayit) that dominates the day’s ritual and liturgy. Reform theology has not generally looked upon the loss of the Temple and the expulsion of the people of Israel from its land as a catastrophe to be lamented by liberal Jews.”
Yes, it’s true. So many of us don’t mourn the Temple’s destruction with a depth of sadness. We don’t usually and truly see ourselves living in exile, expelled by anti-Semitic forces. Yet we live in a world that remains anti-Semitic, despite moral progress. And injustice anywhere - caused by anti-Semitism or any other prejudice - is as, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King cried out, “a threat to justice everywhere.” This is unacceptable, so we must not forget to make mournful moments like Tisha B’Av matter - deep down in our kishkes.
As I was taking some much needed time off last week for rest and reconnection, I was not personally able to provide more attention to Tisha B’Av. Thus, during Shabbat I will offer some focus on it; and, in the near future, we will hold a class on Tisha B’Av as part of our Jewish Way series. We’ll announce the date soon.
On another matter related to the Jewish calendar, I’d like to take a moment to thank David Rakofsky, Amy Guth, and the rest of our High Holiday Task Force. Your excellent work throughout this summer has prepared us well for all the pre-production necessary to provide a meaningful Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this year. Yes, these experiences tailored for our Virtual Village will be digital, but their meaning and impact will be real - palpable to the spirit, tangible to the soul. Also, thanks to our CHESED team we’ll do our best to make our communal observance as accessible as possible to everyone. We’re also working on real-time offerings for the month of Elul, the 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur afternoon, and the ten Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe) overall. One day we’ll reconnect in person. Like you, I can barely wait. But for now - still and always - it’s safety first.
Make it a day of blessing and be a force for good! Stay well and stay in the fight!
Rabbi Craig Marantz