life, outline, Thoughts about Life

Life & What Life Should Be: It’s because of Tisha B’Av…

Tonight marks Tisha B’Av, the day commemorating the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem. It is considered the saddest day of the Jewish year as well as the source of all the pain and suffering in Jewish history. I find it amazing how so many bad things occurring today have taken place in the days and weeks preceding the day. (For more on this part of the post, you can scroll past the quick outline of Tisha B’Av to the bolded headline below).

Not to be confused with Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), which should be more appropriately identified as arguably the most important day of the year. Though many of the same customs held on Yom Kippur are done on Tisha B’Av (i.e. fasting, no leather shoes, washing or bathing for pleasure etc.) but rather for the sake of acting and feeling like mourners, whereas on Yom Kippur the restrictions done in order to detach from the world’s physicalities to attain a heightened spiritual level necessary for forgiveness for our sins. But on Tisha B’Av, we figuratively become dirt and by all means do we deserve it. In fact the restrictions are more severe on Tisha B’Av including the prohibitions against sitting on normal level chairs (until midday) and learning Torah (except for those portions which sadden the heart.). That’s right… we screwed up that badly that we can’t even learn Torah…

I’ve posted an extensive list of laws and rituals for Tisha B’Av which can be found here.

The day, which gets its name for being the Ninth (Tisha = Hebrew) day of the Jewish month of Av, is also the anniversary of several tragedies befalling the Jewish people too.

Bar Kochba revolt was crushed and Romans captured his stronghold at Beitar.

1. The sin of the spies caused Hashem to decree that the Children of Israel who left Egypt would not be permitted to enter the land of Israel

2. Betar, the last fortress to hold out against the Romans during the Bar Kochba revolt in the year 135, fell, sealing the fate of the Jewish people. It’s learned in the Talmud that many Jews were slain at the time that the non-Jews fertilized their vineyards for seven years with the blood of Jews killed at Betar.

3. The Talmud also tells us that Roman Governor Turnus Rufus had Jerusalem and the temple area razed and plowed under, one year after the fall of Betar.

4. In 1492, King Ferdinand of Spain issued the expulsion decree, setting Tisha B’Av as the final date by which not a single Jew would be allowed to walk on Spanish soil.

5. World War I – which began the downward slide to the Holocaust – began on Tisha B’Av.

So maybe that explains all the craziness going on…

In the past few weeks, Jews have been the focus of a ton of negative press and unfortunate occurrences. On the heels of the riots in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh over the arrest of the woman accused of neglecting her children came the news of the arrest of several Jews along the east coast of the USA for charges of corruption, bribery, money laundering and other things. Add the growing animosity between Israel and the USA, especially following the meetings between Obama’s people and the leaders of the American Jewish community.

More personally, I was heartbroken by the news of the death of Rachel Sofer, the three-year-old daughter of a rabbi who teaches at my yeshiva (Ohr David), in Jerusalem after she falling in a manhole.

Unfortunately her death is not the first I have come across recently, as it seems that everyday now we hear of someone dying. Some may not be Jewish, but the ones who count are Jewish most likely. Shortly after finding out about Rachel, the news of the passing of my friend’s brother hit the Facebook news wire. I won’t disclose names for respect, but it just seems rather gloomy with all these grim things going on in the world.

Gloomy, yes. Surprised, not at all.

I’m not saying I’m not surprised about the events, G-d forbid. It’s the timing that’s all. Bad things happened during the Three Weeks preceding Tisha B’Av in Temple times – forever are those dates marked with infamy.

It’s also a very clear message from G-d telling us what’s going on with the state of Jews in the world and that we need to take a step back and regain the vision of our faith. It may not be a fact -more like an advocation by yours truly, but I believe it enough to promulgate the message hence the severity and timing of all that’s happening.

So here’s my message to all Jews on Tisha B’Av:

If Tisha B’Av doesn’t mean anything to you, than Jerusalem should might as well belong to the Palestinians.

Or the Arabs, or anyone else for all that matters, just as long as they aren’t Jewish. Don’t know anything about the day? Go find out about it. Something that important should be given the due time towards understanding and making something from it. I am so sick of Jews being good at everything else in the world, except at being Jewish itself.

So go home from work this afternoon, don’t go in tomorrow, and go mourn alongside your fellow Jews.

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