(RNS) A long time ago, I thought God took the summertime off.
I had no idea there have been summer Jewish holidays or, at the very least, observances until my first summer at the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now Union for Reform Judaism) Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. It had been the summertime of 1969, also it was to function as first-time I have you ever heard of Tisha BAv.
Tisha BAv may be the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. It begins on Saturday evening (Aug. 6). This is a fast day commemorating the destruction of the initial temple by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E., and the next temple by the Romans in 70 C.E.
Additionally it is your day, by sheer historical coincidence, which another bad part of Jewish history occurred:
In 135 C.E., the Romans crushed the Bar Kochba revolt, essentially ending Judean independence. In 1095, Pope Urban II proclaimed the initial Crusade, which in its first month claimed the lives of 10,000 Jews. In 1290, King Edward I signed the Edict of Expulsion, which expelled the Jews from England. In 1492, the Jews of Spain departed from their homeland, beginning the Sephardic Diaspora.
Regardless of the way you slice it, the ninth of Av is really a bad day in Jewish history.
Jewish summer camps revived Tisha BAv. How could they not? It had been the only real Jewish holiday that occurred through the summertime (though observant Jews also mark the three weeks prior, heading back to the seventeenth of Tammuz, once the Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem).
Actually, the revival of Tisha BAv was probably the most important contributions that Jewish camping designed to the Jewish calendar.
We loved it. It had been a paradox: a dark day amid a light-filled summer; enforced glumness; a dumping of each Jewish historical tragedy in a single day, which gave numerous programmatic suggestions to our counselors, who spent an inordinate period of time discovering methods to scare people to death and make us grateful to be in the us where Jews could not have to be afraid again.
With regards to me and Tisha BAv, I’ll quote the non-public status some individuals post on Facebook: Relationship: complicated.
On the main one hand: I take Jewish history very seriously. I really believe in remembering and mourning the painful moments of our history. I really believe in mourning the truth that the Romans exiled us from our land.
When I’m in Jerusalem on that date, I enjoy visit the Western Wall plaza and hear the chanting of the Book of Lamentations. I’ve heard every ethnic band of the Jewish people chant Lamentations within their own melody. This is a sacred cacophony of the Jewish people.
However: The irony also embraces me. WHEN I turn my back again to the Kotel and lift my eyes, what do I see?
I start to see the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. In 1948, the Arab Legion of Jordan arrived to the Old City and forcibly expelled its Jewish inhabitants before systematically destroying the Jewish Quarter.
Today, once you walk through the Jewish Quarter, you don’t see destruction. You see renovation and also resurrection. You see destroyed synagogues which have risen from their ashes. A lot more than this: Jerusalem is really a prosperous, booming city. The cost of real estate in a few neighborhoods approaches that of Manhattan.
So, I find myself asking the question: Do we modern Jews still need Tisha BAv?
In the event that you were to ask historians why the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and Judea, those historians will be clear. The Judeans had revolted contrary to the Romans. The Romans had to avoid the revolt. End of story.
But that’s not how Jews think. We believe that if something bad happens to us, it should be our fault. Therefore, the ancient rabbis developed a moral laundry list for why we lost our independence.
Jerusalem was destroyed (Talmud, Shabbat 119b): Because people desecrated Shabbat. Since they omitted recitation of the morning and evening Shema. Since they neglected the training of school children. Because people had no shame before every other. As the small and the fantastic were made equal.
As the people didn’t rebuke each other. Since they disparaged the Torah scholars inside it.
Other reasons: Since they did not create a blessing ahead of learning the Torah (Talmud, Bava Metzia 85b). Since they ruled based on the letter of regulations (Talmud, Bava Metzia 30b). Due to sinat chinam baseless hatred (Talmud, Bava Metzia 30b).
Notice, please: The reason why add the neglect of ritual matters to the neglect of ethical matters.
EASILY were to require a widespread American Jewish revival of Tisha BAv, I’d achieve this not because I really believe that we have to continually mourn our ancient destructions and heartaches. Rather, I’d achieve this because we have to ponder the sins that resulted in the destruction and resolve to improve those behaviors.
We curently have Yom Kippur, you’re saying. But thats for personal sin. Tisha BAv ought to be about communal sin.
But, not only the Jews. Here, we’ve something to model for America.
Revisit the ethical sins that resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem: Since they lost their sense of shame. Since they didn’t admonish one another; they turned their faces away and saw no evil. Due to sinat chinam baseless hatred.
All of those sins exists in the us today.
We’ve lost our sense of shame. We have to regain our shame of what our country is becoming. We have turn into a culture of entitlement, where we insist upon the letter of regulations with regards to our rights and ignore our responsibilities for the normal good. We take part in sinat chinam gratuitous, free-flowing hatred.
Consider that force inside our nation, and on the planet, this is the most susceptible to distortion nationalism. Nationalism is normal, and also desirable. But, ultra-nationalism becomes toxic, since it can result in fascism.
Nationalism often sees the enemy outside our borders. This is simply not necessarily unhealthy. Ultra-nationalism only sees the enemy in your borders. Those people who are Other racially other, religiously other, sexually other. When our violence turns inward and toward our very own, we have been a culture and a society which has begun the wretched road to the conditions that gave rise to the destruction of Jerusalem.
For anybody that are fans of Star Wars: Luke Skywalker had a need to understand the dark side of the force. America must understand the dark side of the American force and that dark side is definitely white supremacy and the hatred of another.
I turn to what of the late Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, the initial woman to serve in both houses of Congress.
She spoke these words in 1950:
Those folks who shout the loudest about Americanism to make character assassinations are too frequently those that, by our very own words and acts, ignore a few of the principles of Americanism. The proper to criticize. The proper to carry unpopular beliefs. The proper to protest. The proper of independent thought. The exercise of the rights shouldn’t cost a unitary American citizen his reputation or his to a livelihood nor should he maintain threat of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to learn somebody who holds unpopular beliefs. Who folks will not? Otherwise none folks could call our very own souls our very own.
Why don’t we call our souls our very own.
And, why don’t we heal the soul of the nation.
For anybody who fast, should it be easy, meaningful and redemptive.