Why this was the best Tisha B’av ever.

Love hate shirtEvery year Tisha B’av seems the same to me. It’s a mixed feeling of manufactured sadness and confusion about what the sadness is really about.

Last Shabbos, the ruv of my shul delivered the same drosho that dozens of rabbis probably delivered last shabbos. It goes like this: We commemorate the destruction of the bais hamikdosh, the holy temple, that was destroyed twice. Why? Because of sinas chinum, baseless hatred. We have to stop hating other Jews and the bais hamikdosh will be rebuilt. Someone asked me this week why so we still commemorate tishabov? We have a medinas yisroel with a Jewish government — isn’t that an aschalta degeuloh? a beginning of the redemption? I told him, No. Fahkert. Quite the opposite. We have an extra chiyyuv, an extra obligation, to realize that moshiach is not here. That the government of the medinoh is not a real geulah, but maybe the beginning of one. Or maybe stam they are a bunch of corrupt politicians. A real geulah means that we will bring korbonos, have a real bais hamikdosh, be careful with tumoh and taharoh. And everyone will be frum, and no more bloggers who try to tear down frumkeit. Nu, the yishuv is better than being killed in the gas chambers. We still say leshohnoh haboh be’rusholayim, even if you are in yerusholayim, since it’s not really redemption yet. Aiyyy, but then someone asked me, don’t we have a chiyyuv, an obligation, to move to eretz yisroel? Isn’t it hypocritical that we daven every day, and say in bentching every day, and say at every simcha that we yearn to be in Eretz Yisroel? That we want to get out of golus. And now for the first time in 2000 years we can do this with no problem. Aren’t we lying when we say we want to be in Israel, but now that we can’t we live here instead? I told him, No. We are not. We can live here and still say we want to live in eretz yisroel. Since we do want to. But we don’t. We could, but we don’t have to, we just want to. And we want to bring Torah to America too. Nu, may we be zoyche to be able to spend next year in Yerusholayim in the bais hamikdosh, bimharo viyomeinu umain. Musuf follows Kaddish on page…

After such a doublespeak drosho, I was ready for my confused Tisha B’av. But this year I found more clarity. I see hate and love. The hate is clear. Haredim hate that certain rebellious women want to daven at the kotel. They send troops of men to throw eggs and dirty diapers at these women, and they send troops of women who blow whistles loudly to prevent the tallit-clad women from davening with kavanah. They block these women from putting their kvittle in the wall cracks. But it’s not just about hating women. This weekend, a senior sefardic rabbi of the SHAS  party called all men who wear knitted kippot “Amalek”, they should be eradicated and they are the cause of the problems that prevent unity of Torah and peace. He later clarified that his words were taken out of context. He just meant that people who wear knitted kippot are like Amalek and are the cause of all the problems in Israel, and once they are eradicated, Torah will be restored and we’ll have peace.

Given all the hate we see from the haredi world, it’s obvious that Tisha B’av is still relevant, as the hate is alive and well.

But I’m inspired to see lots of love from the Haredi world too. The only problem, it’s fictional. Two exciting examples Haredi love are playing out in the world of entertainment have caught my attention. Last year the movie Fill the Void painted a delicate and intimate picture of love and loyalty in the world of Haredim. It’s a story of love and choices, somewhat like a Jane Austen book set in B’nei Brak.

And this year the very charming Shtisel program on Israeli TV has another view on Haredi love playing out. It’s a story of a young man who pursues a twice widowed hottie, alongside many side plots of his father’s romance, his sister’s loss of a marriage, and the whole politics of love and family in the world of Haredim.

It seems the audience (us) wants to see frum people express themselves with love. There is plenty of news that shows hate. My ruv’s drosho made no sense to me. We commemorate the destruction, but we don’t seem to want to rebuild any temples. We are comfortable here with our hypocrisy. We use the words sinas chinum, but we have no idea what it means other than we want those people to be just like us. The religious double-speak reminds me what every Tisha B’av was like in the past – hypocrisy.

But this year I see the themes of love and hate play out clearly. Tisha B’av makes sense again. I have images of frum people with hate in their eyes and images of people acting like frum people with love in their eyes. I prefer the latter, since it allows me to imagine a redemption. Where ahavas chinam will bring us together. Those (chiloni) actors think it can happen. Maybe they know something worth thinking about.

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