By Rabbi Jill Jacobs
Religious Affairs Committee
holiday of Tisha b'Av,
which commemorates the destruction of the first and
second Temples in Jerusalem
(586 BCE and 70 CE) and subsequent exile of the
Jews, begins at sundown on Monday, July 26th. Jews around
the world mourn for
the loss of the Temple by fasting, reciting kinnot
(mournful songs) and reading
the book of Eicha (Lamentations), a eulogy for the
when Jerusalem is again a
place of intense pain for so many, Tisha b'Av
takes on new significance. In mourning for Jerusalem, we not
only mourn for the
Temple that was, but we also express our longing that Jerusalem
yet become the city of peace.
endurance of this mourning for Jerusalem, almost 2000 years
after the destruction
of the Temple, testifies to the central place of the Temple for
and community. The Temple was not only a physical center point
to which Jews
made pilgrimages three times a year, but also a tangible
representation of the
tradition) wonders about the double use of the root
"b-kh-a'' (cry) in
the verse "bakho tivkeh balaila" ("[the
city] weeps bitterly in
the night") in the book of Eicha and
The city weeps
and causes others weep with her. . .
She weeps and
causes heaven and earth
to weep with her. . .
She weeps and causes the
mountains and hills to
weep with her. . .
She weeps and causes all of the nations of
the world to weep
midrash suggests that
Jerusalem’s weeping is not self-contained; rather,
the pain of Jerusalem causes weeping throughout the entire
nations of the world to the sun and the moon to the mountains
and hills to God
Godself. Yet there is comfort in that no matter how deep our
pain at the loss
of Jerusalem, this pain is tempered by the knowledge that the
entire world is
crying with us.
offers a dual challenge:
First, will we accept the comfort that comes from knowing
that our tears
by so many? Second, can we, similarly, allow
ourselves to be moved to action by the tears of others—by
all of the nations
who share a love for Jerusalem and who weep for this
midrash ends with the promise that our tears, shared by
the entire world,
will eventually bring redemption, along with the hope that
Jerusalem can finally
be the city of peace it was meant to be. This redemption,
however, can only come
through our own tears, combined with our openness to the tears
shedding of tears connect us to the pain and hopeful vision that
our work for peace in Jerusalem and beyond.
Suggestions for Tish b'Av:
and discuss the
arrangements for sharing the Temple Mount (Har
ha-bayt in Hebrew and Haram Al-Sharif in
Arabic) in Article
6 of the Geneva Accord.
how to respectfully
share spaces sacred to more than one religion.
memories of Jerusalem
both pleasant and painful.
have other ideas, please contact the Brit Tzedek Religious Affairs
1 In Eicha Rabbah, the largest
collection of midrashim on the book of
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