Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tisha B'Av

Well, we've just passed the 1,939th Tisha B'Av (9th of Av) the annual day of mourning comemmorating the destruction of the first and second temples, as well as various other calamities throughout Jewish history including the sin of the spies (detailed in Parshat Shlach), as well as the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and the outbreak of the First World War.

Of course, the Islamic Wakf (Muslim religious authority) which administers the Temple Mount (and the mosque which rests atop it) celebrated by continuing their destruction of archaeological ruins, including the digging of a ten foot deep trench to replace leaky pipes, blasting apart the strata of the previous civilizations they succeeded. Kinda ironic since the word "wakf" means "stop" in Arabic, a reference to the Wakf's nominal duty of preventing destruction and preserving holy sites. Destruction of antiquities is a serious criminal offense in Israel, but Israeli government interference on the Temple Mount would cause an outrage throughout the Muslim world, which would be a real diplomatic pain in the neck for the current administration to deal with, and a security nightmare for the Jerusalem police, so official Israel yawns and looks the other way.

In Jerusalem, events to commemorate the destruction moved apace. The scrappy ten or twenty members of the "Temple Mount Faithful" showed up with their cornerstone to take up to the Temple Mount in order to initiate the temple's rebuilding, the police came out in force to stop them, and the media swooped down on "The Faithful" to draw out the most provocative comment possible for the evening news. If sinat chinam, baseless hatred, destroyed the second temple as the Talmud attests, then we've got some work to do before it can be rebuilt.

Of course other events of unity occurred throughout the city. A group of worshipers visited Kever Rachel, Rachel's Tomb, to visit our foremother. We're told that she was buried in a field along the ancient Jerusalem-Babylon highway outside of Beit Lechem (Bethlehem,) separate from the rest of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs in Hebron, so that she would be there to cry for her children as they were dragged off into the Babylonian Exile after the destruction of the first temple.

Another group made a march around the old city walls in an expression of love for the holy city. Of course, I wanted to go to all of these, but the 25-hour fast (no food, no water) was really a killer. Usually I handle fasts pretty well, but for some reason I decided to go jogging in 90 degree (Fahrenheit) weather a mere three hours before the fast, and was unable to make up the water loss in time. Talk about nausea and a splitting headache! So I slept, or clutched my throbbing head, for most of the day. Hopefully, I'll miss these events next year as well, because they will have been canceled and the Temple will have been rebuilt already. 1,939 years is long enough to wait!

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