Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tisha B'Av

Tisha B'Av (Fast of the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av) speaks to me in a way no other day on the Jewish calendar does.

It is the day meant to commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem and the beginning of the long exile of the Jewish people.

My father used to say in Yiddish "iz shver tzi zein a Yid"--it's hard to be a Jew. On Tisha B'Av I think about what our nation has been through since the exile began: we have been discriminated against and expelled, ghetto-ized and tortured. We have been burned at the stake and in our homes and synagogues. We have been starved and gassed.

As I read Eicha last night, I felt the oppression of the centuries.

צוד צדוני כצפר איבי חנם
צמתו בבור חיי וידו אבן בי
צפו מים על ראשי אמרתי נגזרתי

I have been hunted like a bird
by those who were my enemies without cause;
they flung me alive into the pit
and cast stones on me;
water closed over my head;
I said, ‘I am lost.’ (Eichah, 52:2-4)

It really is hard to be a Jew.

Yet, today things are different. We are back in our homeland. And it's still hard to be a Jew, even here. The difference is that now we are Jews who can protect ourselves; we are Jews with guns and we stand ready to fight for our right to be here.

Eicha opens with these words in speaking about the desolation of Jerusalem:

איכה ישבה בדד העיר רבתי עם
היתה כאלמנה רבתי בגוים
שרתי במדינות היתה למס

How lonely sits the city
that was full of people!
How like a widow has she become,
she who was great among the nations!
She who was a princess among the provinces
has become a slave. (Eicha 1:1)

Ironic, these words. This is the Jerusalem of not so long ago, but not the Jerusalem of today. Jerusalem today is a vibrant, teeming city, full of life. Full of Jewish life.

Surely, the geula (redemption) has begun.

May G-d bless us and bring about the complete redemption so we may live in peace in our land amongst the nations.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective an an Israeli Jew. Wishing you an easy and meaningful fast.

Leora said...

Lovely words, despite their sad meaning. I especially appreciated "iz shver tzi zein a Yid" - that's how I felt this week, trying to explain to a non-Jewish blogger why being upbeat and positive doesn't come easily (and may not work at all) for a Jew.

Anonymous said...

well said.


Israel W. said...

beautiful post.
The geula indeed started. I saw it with my own eyes yesterday (9 Av) by the Kotel with thousands of people praying. It was also apparent by walking through the Mamila mall, look at what we have accomplished to do in Jerusalem in 42 short years.