Tisha B’Av and omitted link

Copyright 2011 Neal Joseph Loevinger

Torah Portion: Tisha B’Av

Shalom Friends, we interrupt the regular weekly parsha studies in order to
remind you that
the commemoration of the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av) begins this coming Saturday
night.

Tisha B’Av is Judaism’s saddest holy day, a day in which tragedies of Jewish
history are
mourned and contemplated. More specifically, Tisha B’Av marks the destruction of
the
ancient Temple, a disaster which forever changed the course of Jewish history.
It’s hard for
us as contemporary Americans to appreciate how disconsolate our ancestors were
at
losing (in a bloody war of repression) the very seat and symbol of Jewish
nationality,
sovereignty, and religion.

Imagine, as Americans, if the 9/11 attacks had taken down the White House,
Congress, the
World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, the Supreme Court,
and so on-
all the symbols of America which give us pride and confidence in our country.
Our rage
and sorrow would be unimaginable- and that’s what Tisha B’Av asks us to imagine.

Tisha B’Av is observed by fasting and other physical restrictions, not wearing
leather shoes
(seen as symbols of luxury and therefore inappropriate at a time of mourning),
reciting
sorrowful prayers in the synagogue, and reading the Book of Lamentations, which
tells the
history of the first expulsion from Jerusalem. Tisha B’Av, in some ways, is like
a mirror
image of Purim; instead of drinking and feasting, we fast; instead of reading a
scroll about
our great deliverance, we read a scroll telling of our exile; instead of
dressing up in funny
costumes, we take off our ordinary shoes and go “barefoot” like a refugee.

Both holidays bring us to profound truths: Purim asks us to celebrate life
despite its
occasional absurdity, and Tisha B’Av reminds us that our own suffering is
redeemed only if
we can turn its remembrance into compassion. So we fast, and sit on the floor,
and go
without our fancy shoes, and maybe, God willing, our hearts will open to those
who lament
not the past, but the present, and we will go forth and redeem the world, so
that future
generations have less to lament.

To learn more about Tisha B’Av, go here:

http://www.myjewishlearning.com:80/holidays/TishaBav.htm

To read the text of this week’s Torah portion (a link I usually include in the
parsha email),
go here:

http://www.hebcal.com/sedrot/devarim.html

with blessings of peace,

RNJL

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