Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tisha B'Av

Today at sunset marked the beginning of Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av), which is the most somber day on the Jewish calendar. Both of the Holy Temples were destroyed on the 9th of Av, the first in 586 BCE by the Babylonians, and the second in 70 CE by the Romans. Mourning the destruction of the two Temples, and the subsequent Galut (exile) that's followed, is how the day is observed. It's as if we are sitting Shiva for a loved one who's tragically passed away.

Many people wrongly believe that the period of exile came to an end in 1948 with the formation of the modern State of Israel. This is a misnomer, however, as the galut is not simply the physical act of establishing Jewish governance over parts of the Land of Israel that God gave to the Jews as an eternal heritage. Rather, Galut primarily represents the absence of the Moshiach, or Messiah, and the still unbuilt third and final Holy Temple on the Temple Mount; the only earthly place where God bestows His presence to man.

There have been other terrible tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people on Tisha B'av as well, most notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain under the penalty of death in 1492, which began the terrible period known as The Inquisition.

Jews are required to fast on Tisha B'Av in the same way as for Yom Kippur. We are also to refrain from bathing, using cosmetics, working as normal, studying Torah, shaving, wearing leather shoes, and having sex.

At the evening service of Tisha B'Av, after the Ma'ariv prayers, Eicha, or the Book of Lamentations, is read aloud to the congregation which sits on the floor as if sitting Shiva in a house of mourning.

Tonight I was at the synagogue for the services and it was very, very powerful. As the chazzans (there were five, one for each chapter) chanted in Hebrew, I read the English translation. I was very moved, and felt compelled to incorporate some of the passages into this posting, accompanied with my own commentary relating them to today's world, of course.

But first, a little background on the Book of Lamentations.


The prophet Jeremiah had been instructed by God before the first Temple was destroyed to warn the people that destruction and exile were on the way if the self-loathing Jews of that era didn't stop the mass desecration of God and Torah, and repent for their decadent behavior.

Rather than take heed of Jeremiah's warnings, the self-loathers accused him of spreading politically incorrect hate speech and intolerance to those who preferred to engage in alternative lifestyles, and, subsequently, he was imprisoned for demonstrating a criminal lack of sensitivity.

Some years later, after the Temple was destroyed and the Jews had been deported to Babylon by Nebachadnezzer, Jeremiah wrote the great book of Eicha, or Lamentations.

Passages with commentary

Gone from the daughter of Zion is all her splendor. Her leaders were like deer that found no pasture; they walked on without strength before the rodef (pursuer).

Could there be a better lament of the terrible times Zion faces today than that? A cowardly leader unwilling to demolish the rodef moslems? Yes, we know of ye, Ehud.

Jerusalem sinned greatly, she has therefore become a wanderer. All who once respected her disparage her, for they have seen her disgrace. She herself sighs and turns away.

Today, Jerusalem faces the disgraceful specter of a looming "Gay pride" parade and, of course, Olmert's wicked plot to cede over half of the city to the vermin. Could it be any clearer? A parade of gay men dancing down the streets in drag because they're celebrating taking it up the butt? I'm quite certain she would indeed sigh and turn away from that.

All your enemies opened their mouths wide at you; they whistle and gnash their teeth. They say, "We have devoured her! Indeed, this is the day we longed for; we have found it, we have seen it!"

Just toss in burning flags and "Alahu Ahkbar!" chanting and Jeremiah has described the vermin street to a tee. This was Gaza after the expulsion of the Jews; this was Lebanon after the retreat in 2000; and this will be Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, too, if Ehud gets his wish.

Rejoice and exult, O daughter of Edom, who dwells in the land of Uz; to you, too, will the cup pass, you will become drunk and you will vomit. Your iniquity is expiated, O daughter of Zion, He will not exile you again; He remembers your iniquity, daughter of Edom, He will uncover your sins.

The vermin may be dancing in the streets Israel vacated now, but the time will come when the payback for their savagery is meted out. When that happens, oh my will they be getting theirs in spades.

Bring us back to You, God, and we shall return, renew our days of old. For even if You had utterly rejected us, You have already raged sufficiently against us.

In other words, the misery of all these millennia we have suffered makes the redemption long overdo. The opportunity is here today, the time is now, and we must act with strength to do what is good in God's eyes: destroy the enemy vermin and make Israel whole for the Moshiach, and the Temple, so God's presence will return to us once again.




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