Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tisha B'Av - No Longer One



I was reading an article by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.  He states that in historical terms, Tisha B’Av was a multiple disaster. It was the end point of a major war that we lost. There was a huge massacre -- and also the dispersion of the Jewish people to many countries. It resulted in the loss of independence and of our ability to act as one, united people. It signaled wholesale change in our way of life: religious, practical and economic.

He goes on to state that these results have not diminished with time. The lack of unity, the lack of common purpose, the loss of the feeling that we are one people: all these began about 2,000 years ago. And they have not changed very much. He uses the example that when one suffers an accident that leaves him maimed and handicapped, he may eventually forget the pain – but he will always remember that his face and his body are no longer the same, that his present life is different. If there is something to mourn – these are the results of Tisha B’Av that should be mourned.

Strangely, on the way home from work today and before reading this article, while on the phone with a friends of mine (Hi, E!), I was trying to convey this.  It is this feeling I have that makes me want to embrace entirely or conversely run far, far away at the same time.  Sometimes the lack of unity, common purpose and feeling that we are one overwhelms me.  There are times, too, when I am feeling that unity, common purpose and oneness...it is  hopeful and exciting.  Inevitably, it seems, the rug is pulled out from under me (or I look in the mirror and remember that the face and the body are no longer the same and life is different). 

Balancing this hopefulness with reality can be a challenge.  Regardless, I have the place I need to go to in order to grieve--for the destruction of the temple, the expectation others have for being alike to mean unity, for the missed opportunity for us to see our common purpose even amongst our varying visions on how we proceed in our own lives, and for believing that we Jews are not one when in fact, we are one--one people.

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