Tisha B'Av, the
saddest day of the Jewish calendar, is known as a black fast,
marking the destruction of the first Temple in 586 BCE, and the
second Temple in 70 CE. With the final defeat, the Jewish people
lost 25 percent of the population and lived for 2000 years in
In addition to fasting, we remember these
tragedies by sitting low to the ground in the posture of
mourners to recite Eicha (Lamentations) and mournful
liturgy specific to Tisha B'Av. It is a day so dark that it
carries the unique prohibition even to study Torah, itself
considered a joy — only the Book of Job and parts of
Jeremiah are allowed.
Tradition teaches that we lost the first
Temple because we didn't keep the laws, but by the time of the
second temple, the Israelites were scrupulously observant.
Observance, however, wasn't enough: The second Temple was
destroyed because of sinat hinam, causeless hatred
The need to guard against sinat
hinam begins at home. American Jews who care about Israel
are deeply divided over its relations to the Palestinians, and
our divisions too often create animosity that blocks our ears
and hearts to one another. Brit Tzedek's Listening Projects are
intended to halt the growth of causeless hatred among American
When we forget that we are called to bring
heaven to earth by behaving with love, we risk not only harming
our own spiritual connection or our community, but the world
itself. Tisha B'Av is the day we acknowledge our regret for what
might have been. If only our people 2000 years ago had behaved
with love and mercy instead of hatred...
But before we fall in too deep an abyss of
regret, the tradition informs us that the Messiah will be born
on Tisha B'Av. From that day on, no one will be hungry, war will
be memory, and none shall fear another. May our sorrow end with
faith and a resolve to do better. Brit Tzedek exercises our
resolve by working to bring peace for Israelis and Palestinians
for Tisha B'Av:
1. Read Eicha (Lamentations).
Discuss how it may be seen as a cautionary tale about the horror
of growing indifferent to the suffering of others.
2. Discuss how collective mourning can help
us face ourselves individually. How do we demonize others? How
can we sow empathy and forgiveness?
3. Support every effort for peace. Behavior
is contagious, and peace breeds peace. The continuation of the
occupation eats away at Israel's spirit; reconciling with the
Palestinians, however, could lead the country from strength to
strength. When the world is healed, we are healed with
4. Sign on to Brit Tzedek's Message to the
President, Don't Let Gaza Fail!
5. Organize a Listening Project in your
community. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more
If you have other ideas, please contact the
Religious Affairs Committee at email@example.com.
Rabbi Malka Drucker's website is http://www.malkadrucker.com/.
Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
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Chicago, IL 60603
Fax: (312) 341-1206
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