Draw On Your Experience
In what contexts have you already been patient? Even the most impatient person will be able to think of a few. Realize that you can now access this very same patience in new contexts where you haven't yet been as patient as you would like to be.
Love Yehuda Lave
GOOD MORNING! What is the saddest day of your life? For most of us, it the day when someone close to us passes away. For the Jewish people as a nation, the saddest day is the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av -This year on July 16, 2013- the day when our Temple in the heart of Jerusalem was destroyed. That is what our tradition teaches us. However, it is hard to relate to the loss of something 2,000 years ago -- especially since we never experienced having the Temple in our lifetime.
July 15th, Monday evening through Tuesday night, is Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av. It is the saddest day in the Jewish year. What should a person do if he has no feeling for Tisha B'Av? If a person is Jewish and identifies with being Jewish, then it behooves him to find out why we as a people mourn on this day -- what have we lost? What did it mean to us? What should we be doing to regain that which we have lost? At the very minimum, we should mourn that we don't feel the pain.
In 1967, Israeli paratroopers captured the Old City and made their way to the Wall. Many of the religious soldiers were overcome with emotion and leaned against the Wall praying and crying. Far back from the Wall stood a non-religious soldier who was also crying. His friends asked him, "Why are you crying? What does the Wall mean to you?" The soldier responded, "I am crying because I don't know why I should be crying."
Tisha B'Av is observed to mourn the loss of the Temples in Jerusalem. What was the great loss from the destruction of the Temples? It is the loss of feeling God's presence. The Temple was a place of prayer, spirituality, holiness, open miracles. It was the center for the Jewish people, the focal point of our Jewish identity. Three times a year (Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot) every Jew would ascend to the Temple. Its presence pervaded every aspect of Jewish life -- planning the year, where one faced while praying, where one would go for justice or to learn Torah, where one would bring certain tithes.
On the 9th of Av throughout history many tragedies befell the Jewish people, including:
- The incident of the spies slandering the land of Israel with the subsequent decree to wander the desert for 40 years.
- The destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem by Nevuchadnetzar, King of Babylon in 423 BCE.
- The destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE.
- The fall of Betar and the end of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans 65 years later, 135 CE.
- Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed, and many Jewish communities obliterated.
- The Jews of England were expelled in 1290.
- The Jews of Spain were expelled in 1492.
- World War One broke out on Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Russia declared war on Germany. German resentment of the Treaty of Versailles set the stage for World War II and the Holocaust.
- On Tisha B'Av, deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.
Tisha B'Av is a fast day (like Yom Kippur, from sunset one evening until the stars come out the next evening) which culminates a three week mourning period by the Jewish people. One is forbidden to eat or drink, bathe, use moisturizing creams or oils, wear leather shoes or have marital relations. The idea is to minimize pleasure and to let the body feel the distress the soul should feel over these tragedies. Like all fast days, the object is introspection, making a spiritual accounting and correcting our ways -- what in Hebrew is called Teshuva -- returning to the path of good and righteousness, to the ways of the Torah.
Teshuva is a four part process: 1) We must recognize what we have done wrong and regret it 2) We must stop doing the transgression and correct whatever damage that we can, including asking forgiveness from those whom we have hurt -- and making restitution, if due 3) We must accept upon ourselves not to do it again 4) We must verbally ask the Almighty to forgive us.
On the night of Tisha B'Av, we sit on low stools (as a sign of our mourning) in the synagogue. With the lights dimmed -- and often by candlelight -- we read Eicha, the book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah). We also recite Kinot, a special liturgy recounting the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who
Signed the Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured
Before they died
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving
In the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their
What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were
Farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but
They signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the
Penalty would be death if they were captured. Carter Braxton of
Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the
seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his
Debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKean was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move
his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and
His family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and
Poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dilley, Hall, Clymer,
Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge, and Middleton
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British
General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters.
He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was
Destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed
His wife and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13
Children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to
waste. F or more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning
Home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. Some of us take
These liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't.
So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and
Silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they
Remember: freedom is never free! and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer, picnics, and Baseball games!!!
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