Tisha B’av Today?



If this post is a little less coherent than my typical articulately written and beautifully crafted blog, that could be because I’m 19 hours in to the 25 hour fast in honor of Tisha B’av. Many Jews no longer observe this fast – and while there are certainly countless and varied reasons for this choice, one common refrain is that Tisha B’av is not a relevant holiday to our modern lives. This argument goes something like this: “The destruction of an ancient temple thousands of years ago is not a cause for continued sadness. Moreover, the existence of the State of Israel makes our mourning moot – the exile and destruction we are moaning is over!”

There are a few categories of response to this claim. The first is that Tisha B’av is about a lot more than just the destruction of the Temple. It traditionally also commemorates the countless travesties that have befallen the Jewish people throughout our existence. Tisha B’av is also an opportunity to reflect on the rabbis’ explanation that the Temple was destroyed because of “sinat hinam” – baseless hatred – and to find and correct the instances of baseless hatred in our lives and our world today. In fact, we can see examples of the very sort of disrespect that was the cause of Tisha B’av at our remaining relic of the Temple itself, the Kotel. Unfortunately, even the Western Wall has become a microcosm of the sorts of infighting and mistreatment that we pledge on this holiday to alleviate. The current State of Israel – the current manifestation of the Temple – is still a cause of sadness and despair.

The book of Eicha, which we read on Tisha B’av, repeatedly asks the question “how?” How did we let ourselves reach this moral low? How did we let each other sin and hate? However you observe Tisha B’av, use this holiday as a time to reflect not just on how we got here, but on how we as a community can together repair and rebuild.

Image originally found here.

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About Sarah Krinsky

Sarah Krinsky is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. She is from Los Angeles, CA and graduated from Yale University in May 2012.

2 Responses to “Tisha B’av Today?”

  1. SARAH,

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR SHORT AND SWEET AND ON THE POINT ESSAY.

    AND YOU ARE YOUNG ENOUGH TO PROVIDE YEARS OF LEADERSHIP.

  2. Far more important than even the injustices at the Western Wall is the danger we are facing of destruction of the Holy Temple of all peoples and all life-forms — the sacred Earth itself. Ancient midrash said the first “Eicha” (Lament) was God’s outcry “Ayekka?!” (with the same consonants) — “Where are you?”– in the Garden of Eden — a universal, not a Jewish Exile. An Exile, according to the story, that came because of human greed and lack of self-restraint in relationship with the joyful abundance of the Earth. Out of that greed, the abundance disappeared and Exile began. What better reason to bewail our greedy grabbiness toward the Earth today? For an “Eicha for the Earth” by Tamara Cohen, see https://theshalomcenter.org/node/1733

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