Tisha B'Av, who needs it?
By Larry Fine
We have been in exile for two thousand years. That is a very long time to punish us for our sins. When a son does not behave properly his father gives him a punishment, but the punishment must be one that corrects the improper behavior of the son. Depriving a young boy of his allowance for one week may be justified to teach him to come home on time, but to put him in a dungeon for ten years is too severe. We also have gone through the worst exile imaginable. We have seen the tortures of the Romans and then the Christians and finally the Nazis, in between them we have suffered pogroms and been driven out from our homes from almost every Christian nation. Now we are under threat from a soon to be nuclear Iran.
Two thousand years is too much punishment. If G-d could have mercy on Cain who killed his bother Abel, then it is time for us to ask G-d to have mercy on us.
To sit and mourn for the temple is no longer a reasonable task. Who remembers the temple that he may mourn for it? Who amongst us knows what the temple did for us that we should say with any truth that we miss it. Miss it? Ha! How can we miss something we have no clue to its greatness and what goodness it brought us?
If a child's father dies when the boy is only a baby, he may have no recollection of the father as he grows up, but at least he knows what a father is. He sees his friends and their fathers; he sees fathers playing with their sons, he sees fathers helping their sons with homework and giving them an allowance. If he does not have a father, at least he knows what a 'father' is. Therefore he can mourn and feel bad that he does not have a father.
What do we know about the holy temple that stood in Jerusalem? What can we fathom of the closeness that the sacrifices brought us, of the atonement, of the purification and the goodness that we had in those times? We are worse than orphans, we do not know anything of the temple, save a few stories and teachings that we can barely understand. How can we in all truth mourn for the destruction of the holy temple?
Any one who says he feels the loss of the temple is suspect of fabrication. Authentic feelings in our lowly times can only be felt by gifted individuals. In our generation, a rare person can only honestly say that he feels bad that he can not feel bad about the loss of the temple. How can we mourn something we have no real knowledge, something that never played any part in neither our lives nor our recent relatives lives? We can only mourn our numbness, our lack of feeling for something that we are only told is important but we can not truly understand it.
A story of the famed Chassidic Rabbi, Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov, who came into the synagogue on Tisha B'Av only to see his Chassidim sitting on the floor and instead of mourning and saying Lamentations, were joking and schmoozing with one another. Levi Yitzchak looked up to heaven and intoned a prayer: "Master of the Universe, if your children do not observe this holiday of yours properly, take it from them!"
We too say that enough is enough; we admit that we can not properly observe Tisha B'Av. We must beseech the Master of the World to take it away and give us the temple. Let us see and feel what it is and what it does. We can not mourn for what we never knew. We must ask G-d to give it back to us. Two thousand year is enough punishment!
It is time to tell G-d enough!
from the July 2009 Edition of the Jewish Magazine