Thursday, July 30, 2009

Making Tisha B'Av mean something

Hi everyone, I haven't blogged for a while, even with the new Harry Potter movie out. But here it is on Tisha B'Av afternoon, and I just want to share some thoughts.

I spent the first half of the day today, from 8am until noon, at Tisha B'Av prayers with teaching and elaboration by Rabbi Yaacov Haber, a Rabbi I've been in contact with for 20 years but only now live in the same town. The prayers and Rabbi Haber's teachings, and most other teachings and writings about the day, revolve around two themes: (1) All the horrible events that have happened throughout history on Tisha B'Av, and (2) the Talmud's conclusion that the exile that we're mourning is Divine punishment for hatred between Jews.

Right now, though, I feel very frustrated. Jews the world over can mourn the exile, fast, say prayers remembering horrors throughout Jewish history, and discuss the problems with hatred between Jews. Then we go home, rest a bit, eat dinner when the fast day is over, and go back to our regular lives the next day. And unfortunately, there will be as much hatred between Jews tomorrow as there was yesterday.

I think we all need to do something really simple. We need to decide, each of us, what we can do to reduce hatred in the world, particularly hatred between Jews. Can we commit to trying to understand others instead of insulting them? Can we commit to doing something active to bring different groups of Jews together? Can we commit to doing something nice for people that we might not otherwise do?

It's very easy to focus on other Jews that need to do this more than us. Here in Israel it's easy to say that the REAL problems of hatred between Jews are the rioters, or the stone throwers, or the ..... But if we say that, nothing will change. We've all got to make a change.

If we can do this, maybe, with G-d's help, next year's Tisha B'Av can be a celebration instead of a fast day, and we can reach a Messianic state of true peace and understanding. If we want that, we need to make a step.


Dan K said...

Wow, an amazing perspective and view! Really did the very end of the day for me!

Vivienne Damelin said...

Tactics: DanLechafSchus and eyin tov, stay away from making rechilut and refuse lashon hara. But it is hard not to be hurt when people don't want to know the damage they are doing.
We are responsible for telling people when they are wrong and rejected when we do. We need our old-time Judges and a true leader.

Unknown said...

Sorry to nitpick.

I think you mean "baseless hatred" because there are cases when justified hatred is proper an necessary. Although this is rare it does happen.

Tzvi H said...

well said.
For those who may be interested, Rabbi Haber's Tisha B'av Kinos are available in video at