Tonight begins the holiday of Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av). According to our tradition, it was on the 9th of Av that both the First and Second Temples were destroyed (first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and then by the Romans in the year 70 CE). Jewish tradition further teaches that throughout our history many of the worst atrocities against the Jews fell on Tisha B’Av.
Throughout history, Tisha B’Av has served to keep Jews intimately linked to the value and importance of Jerusalem in our faith. By morning the loss of our ancient Temple, we have remained steadfast in our concern for the future of Jerusalem in every generation.
Observant Jews will begin fasting this evening and conclude tomorrow at sundown. This custom is an expression of solidarity in sadness. Most Jews, however, are not fasting – and yet – an urgent call for solidarity within our community is as strong as it has ever been.
On Monday, the Israeli parliament approved a sweeping proposal to overhaul the judiciary. This highly contentious decision has fractured the nation pushing Israel to a state of internal instability.
It is in the light of what is unfolding in the streets of Israel today that Tisha B’Av takes on new meaning. Whether you choose to fast or not, there is much to be concerned about. Jerusalem and the State of Israel are facing grave threats from within, and while there is little, we can do to change the destructive forces at hand, I encourage all of us to allow Tisha B’Av (and its lamentation of past destructions) to remind us of the importance and the fragility of Israel in the unfolding story of our people and our faith.