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Finding meaning on Tisha Baav

So the fast is winding down by now and I should have posted something earlier, I really didn’t feel like making this post funny of entertaining, tisha baav is not supposed to be entertaining, while yes it is abstract to mourn for two of the most important yet ancient sites that were ever to be- I think there are different ways to mourn.

I have loads of trouble with days like today, its not easy to mourn for something so far away, so unbelievable really, so abstract as a temple. I do imagine however that if we were to imagine the kotel destroyed by a terrorist attack all the sudden- many if not all of us would be in mourning. I myself have prayed to God many times at the western wall and cannot wait to approach this holy place in one weeks time. Imagine 4 of these glorious walls with the insides filled with holy items and that in a sense is a the Beit Hamikdash. Hard to understand I know- but the image of the western wall as we know it today, in rubble surrounded by a plume of smoke and teams of magon david adom looking for survivors is something we really can imagine- although we don’t want to.

To get in a sad and mournful mood, I look no farther then the Holocaust, or maybe to stories from wars fought in Israel or chicken soup for the soul style stories surrounded with hashgacha prutus and the love of fellow Jews to people in times of need.

I have always struggled with the understanding and davening on tisha baav, the kinos and eicha and just feeling mournful for something that took place beyond our imagination. I am just ranting here, writing my thoughts, but I do hope your fast and prayers and learning and discussion was meaningful and inspirational.

I understand that ending this post with gut yuntiff, merry tisha baav of season saluatations would be inappropriate- so I won’t say any of that.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Anonymous August 10, 2008, 7:46 PM

    we’re not really mourning a building, we’re mourning the loss of the shechina in the world- we’ve come to the point where we need theological proofs of G-d’s existence
    All the suffering that continues to this day is because we don’t have the beis hamikdash

  • Leora August 10, 2008, 8:32 PM

    I certainly find that the Holocaust is so close to us, a way to feel the horrors of ancient tragedies. Rav Schacter spoke today about how the Rav would cry for the rabbis that died 2000 years ago, and he was really crying for the gedolim that had died in Europe only a few decades earlier.

  • Mikeinmidwood August 10, 2008, 8:44 PM

    Did anyone say kinos for the holocaust?

  • Baal Habos August 10, 2008, 10:06 PM

    >Rav Schacter spoke today about how the Rav would cry for the rabbis that died 2000 years ago.

    What, he can only cry for a rabbi?

  • chanief August 10, 2008, 10:21 PM

    Mikeinmidwood I have no idea why we have no specific and appropriate remembrance of the Holocaust in the Orthodox world. If we fast for tragedies that took place so long ago and have little to no practical meaning or relevance to us, why is there nothing for the Holocaust?

    Oh and Hesh, good thing you didn’t write anything like gut yuntiff or merry Tisha B’Av, I agree it would have been grossly inappropriate ;o)

  • Shimon August 10, 2008, 10:22 PM

    I watched Rabbi Weinreb on the OU webcast instead of going to shul for kinos… you may want to try that some time.

  • G6 August 11, 2008, 7:20 AM

    Mike in Midwood:
    Rav Shimon Schwab wrote a particularly poetic and haunting kinah lamenting the haulocasust which is pretty widely available at this point.
    Look in some of the newer Kinos for sale today.
    You could probably also call KAJ (Breuer’s shul) office and they have them printed on cards.

  • Ben August 11, 2008, 8:55 AM

    There are over 5 Million Jews in the USA . For 460,000 of us it was just another beautiful beach day. I believe that most of the 9th of Av story is mythical. If somehow the Jewish establishment would re-focus to something more realistic eg the shoa it may garner a bit more support & participation for Jews in general

  • Phil August 11, 2008, 9:19 AM

    The artscroll Kinnos have the kinnoes written by R. Scwab and one of the chassidish rebbeim (I belive Gerrer Rebbe). Both survived the holocaust, although they took many years before writing the Kinnos. They eventually rationalized that if kinnos were written for 5000 Jews that were killed in Mainze, how much more so should they be written for a period were more than 5000 Jews were routinely killed on a DAILY basis.

    May Hashem anvenge their blood.

  • Left Brooklyn and never looked back August 11, 2008, 12:57 PM

    I to have problems with Tisha b’Av. And some of my issues (and cynacism) stems from the fact that many (if not most) people have little clue as to what they are mourning (or for that matter understand the kinot that they are reciting – even in English). Do they know the dates of the destructions? Who was King at the time? Everyone knows it was sinat chinam that brought down the 2nd bayit but what were the 3 causes of the destruction of the first bayit? What was the outcome of the 2nd churban?

    Everyone wants the Beit Hamikdash back but are they prepared to abandon the religion that they practice? Do they think Judaism will be the same? Are they suddenly going to go from shucklers to bringing animal sacrifices?

    What is sad is that the day has little meaning. (How many people wish each other an “easy fast” but not a meaningful one?) Does anyones behavior (myself included) change?

  • s(b.) August 11, 2008, 1:35 PM

    –what were the 3 causes of the destruction of the first bayit?–
    please clue me in.

    I don’t want the Beit HaMikdash back. I think contemporary Beit HaMikdash is like bilvavi (the song). Build an altar in your heart and sacrifice your soul on it (by doing better, being nicer, increased middot, etc.). I do not agree with longing for the days (which none of us remember, and longing for the past is deconstructive, I’m not doing it). I do not long for moshiach, for the beit hamikdash, for next year in Jerusalem. I find moshiach in the divine spark inside me. The third Beit HM is in my heart and I am the only animal sacrifice in it. If I want next year in Jerusalem, I’ll buy a plane ticket. Tikkun olam begins with people taking action, not waiting for a guy in a talis on a donkey sauntering into town to blow shofar. The time is always now to do more and better to heal this world.

  • Left Brooklyn and never looked back August 11, 2008, 2:08 PM

    s(b.) the three reasons stated in the gemarah are:

    1. idol worship
    2. adultry
    3. murder

  • s(b.) August 11, 2008, 2:09 PM

    thanks. 🙂

  • suitepotato August 11, 2008, 5:56 PM

    s(b.): “I dont want the Beit HaMikdash back. I think contemporary Beit HaMikdash is like bilvavi (the song). Build an altar in your heart and sacrifice your soul on it (by doing better, being nicer, increased middot, etc.). I do not agree with longing for the days (which none of us remember, and longing for the past is deconstructive, Im not doing it). I do not long for moshiach, for the beit hamikdash, for next year in Jerusalem. I find moshiach in the divine spark inside me. The third Beit HM is in my heart and I am the only animal sacrifice in it. If I want next year in Jerusalem, Ill buy a plane ticket. Tikkun olam begins with people taking action, not waiting for a guy in a talis on a donkey sauntering into town to blow shofar. The time is always now to do more and better to heal this world.”

    Be careful. The last person who dared to voice the idea of transcendent messiahship, that we are each are own savior, had it rewritten before his blood was dry into a superstitious simplistic idea that he was in fact the one and more to the point only messiah and that G-d doesn’t want to know you unless you genuflect to that concept.

    I agree with you by the way. You capture the idea of psychological rebirth from one assumed worldview to a carefully chosen one, the idea of being one’s own salvation, and that we are inherently powerful, not powerless.

    Bravo s(b.). Bravo.

  • s(b.) August 11, 2008, 6:27 PM

    I’m no Jesus. I’m just believe that there’s a divine spark in all of us. And if Moshiach is part of Hashem, and we’re part of Hashem, then part of Moshiach’s part of the part of Hashem that’s part of us, too. Can I say part a little more? lol

    Inherently not powerless would be a good way to describe it. I think existence is cooperative. What was said in the two last names comments about the couple being equal with Hashem at the wheel, I can dig it.

    I think what’s up in my world is a cooperative effort between me and Hashem. Like, God looks out for me, but I still have to look both ways before I cross the street. Work together.

    I am far from the only person to have ever thought of this. There is stuff from diverse ends of the Judaic spectrum to support this notion. If anyone does not know how to do a web search and want me to support this, let me know, and I’ll throw something up on my blog later tonight. I have to try and catch a class now.

  • Hope Less August 11, 2008, 8:10 PM

    Fact: 6 million Jews were Killed in the Holocaust, but 14 million Jews were killed by the destruction of the second temple/Beit Hamikdash.

  • Mikeinmidwood August 11, 2008, 8:29 PM

    Hope less

    Did not know that interesting.

  • s(b.) August 11, 2008, 11:19 PM

    the same way marriage is a triangle with Hashem and spouse, I think relating to the world is a triangle with Hashem and humanity. In the middle invisible part, moshiach is found, if you want to find it there. If Judaism is Box of Rain, Moshiach is Eyes of the World.

    my cat just brought me a piece of plastic. that means it’s time for bed. 😆

  • KissMeI'mShomer August 12, 2008, 10:49 AM

    Thanks for the post Hesh.
    I absolutely love your comments, s(b.)!
    Just had to say that. 😉

  • Yochanan August 12, 2008, 8:40 PM

    “I understand that ending this post with gut yuntiff, merry tisha baav of season saluatations would be inappropriate- so I wont say any of that.”

    Since Tisha BeAv is supposed to be the day Mashiach is born on, I think next year I’ll wish people a “POTENTIAL Tisha BeAv Sameach”.

  • Anonymous August 17, 2008, 1:03 AM

    Your feelings define the meaning of Tishabav: Like all good lessons You need an allegory (Moshul) I will explain with a real story. The scene is the Old City and over the Radio is heard the famous words “????? ??????- the Kotel is in our Hands”. Many of the first people to get to the Kotel start crying .There is one ardent atheist who starts crying his friend asks WHY ARE YOU CRYING? His answer rings true to your feelings and he says I am Crying Because I don’t Know What everyone else is crying about. We are so Disconnected from Hashem we are Indifferent in the face of it all ,one redeeming factor about you is at least you are conciseness enough to know that you don’t know what to cry about and admitting you have a Problem is the first step to recovery.

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