The Jewish people has forgotten that it is in exile.
Partially, this is due to the creation of the State of Israel.
Partially, this is due to the extraordinary welcome of Jews in the United States, and in most democratic countries.
Partially, this is due to the economic standing of most Jews worldwide.
Wholly, the feeling of triumph over exile is unwise.
Jews have forgotten what they lost. The ancient Holy Temples are, at best, symbols; at worst, ancient history or faded from consciousness altogether.
Actually, Israel is beset with problems internally, with its vast gap between rich and poor, now coming to expression in its housing crisis; and externally, with the UN denouncing it at every turn, with Hamas at its southern border and Hezbollah on its north, each declaring its desire to destroy Israel.
The welcome of the Jews in democratic countries is still firm, but one cannot help but worry as attempted bans on shechitah and circumcision proliferate.
The economic standing of Jews worldwide is also still firm so firm that it is easy to ignore the growing pockets of poverty.
Mostly, however, the issue is spiritual. The loss of the Jewish spiritual center is the greatest gap of all for not being missed. If that loss does not resonate, even at the time of Tisha bAv, the anniversary of the destruction of both of the ancient Holy Temples, surely the memory of the recent Holocaust and of the earlier, ghastly expulsions, burnings at the stake and other mass murders of the Jewish people should enable us to face the fact of exile, and commit to improve the ways we relate to G-d and man.
It is said that the Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred: divisions within Jewry. Mean-spiritedness. Slander. Gossip. Talebearing. Speaking without thinking. It is surely time to put an end to all that. Easier said than done.
The first step is to mourn what weve lost to sense it, to feel it, to reimagine a Jewish people focused on a spiritual center in the holy city of Jerusalem. Tisha bAv recalls that, as well as all of the other spiritual centers in the exile that met their own demise, violently. The first step to redemption is the remembrance of national destruction. That is what Tisha bAv is all about.
Copyright © 2011 by the Intermountain Jewish News