ANOTHER Tisha b’Av has arrived. It creeps up among summer festivities, planting itself in the midst of a glamorous heat wave. In the middle of our summer fun comes a summer fast and the saddest day of the Jewish year.
Each year, I am surprised by how few Jews acknowledge or are even familiar with Tisha b’Av.
Is it because Hebrew school is out in August?
How is it that the saddest day on the Jewish calendar has become so devalued?
Tisha b’Av is more than a fast day in the middle of the stifling heat. More than a commemoration to the two destroyed temples and the numerous calamities of Jewish destruction. It is more than the remembrance of the First Crusade, the expulsion of Jews all over the world and the deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto.
The ultimate importance behind Tisha b’Av is the recognition of the lack of unity within the Jewish people.
WHEN 12 spies came back from Israel with 10 despairing reports, the Jewish people’s panic and lack of faith in ?G-d, and in one another, coupled with their crying complaints set the stage for the ensuing calamities We were punished, unable to enter the land of Israel, our home.
This is the first misfortune and calamity on the list of sufferings that we mourn each Tisha b’Av.
My friend and role model, Rebbetzin Lisa Cook, first helped me understand the importance of Klal Yisrael, the unity of the Jewish people.
She explained that the loss of the temple stemmed from the loss of our unity and love for one another, also exemplified when we were denied entrance into the land of Israel.
Because the people of Israel did not respect their fellow Jews, they found hatred and flaws among their own family, ultimately resulting in the destruction of our temple, our wholeness.
Any individual, family, team, congregation, community or nation depends on central strength the same way that the body depends on a healthy heartbeat. If the heart hurts, everything else hurts. If one person is suffering, everyone suffers.
As we mourn the misfortunes and the mayhem that have torn apart our people, we must focus on the heartbeat.
If there is no Klal Yisrael, there is no heartbeat.
If the secret to our redemption is the unity of our people, why does it seem as though we are less united then ever? Why are there Jews who disregard the land of Israel, who have no respect for different denominations, and who go out of their way to hurt another Jew, whether through words or actions?
How can we even pretend like the world will finally accept us if we cannot accept one another?
Tisha b’Av seems inconvenient: a fast at the hottest time of summer, in the middle of our carefree vacations, relaxation and bliss.
Its timing is no coincidence. It is a reminder that in the midst of all our fun, we cannot forget that the heart of the Jewish people is in desperate need of care.
ONE week after Tisha b’Av is the 15th of Av, one of two days of celebration on the Jewish calendar, the anniversary of joyous events for Jewish people, the day of matchmaking.
The closeness of the 15th, one of the happiest days of the year, and the 9th, the saddest day of the year, reminds us that we have a shot at redemption. Plus, we hold the tools needed to bring it.
My Hebrew birthday is on Av 25, close to both the most tragic and most joyous days of the year. I am always reminded that as another year is granted to me, I cannot continue to cry and complain about the problems and challenges I am faced with.
I cannot continue to go day-by-day waiting for suffering to submerge itself.
I must recognize that my efforts can be the source of redemption.
As Av 15 approaches, we are reminded that each time we have suffered we have been given another chance at redemption.
Fighting over negotiations, pointing fingers at government leaders, and criticizing each other are not the solution.
If our suffering started when unity was broken, then we know how it must be repaired. We can continue to blame the world for hating, disrespecting and punishing us, but we cannot expect different results without repairing our own heartbeat.
Once we repair the inside, the outside opposition doesn’t stand a chance.
Copyright © 2011 by the Intermountain Jewish News