Photo: AP, Michael Kramer
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Third temple? The Knesset
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky

Update Tisha B'Av

To many, Tisha B’Av, which focuses on destruction of First and SecondTemples, but ignores Holocaust and building of the third Temple, has become archaic and outdated. Half of Tisha B’Av is for sad songs and Book of Lamentations, but other half should be for thanksgiving and Declaration of Independence

Jewish tradition draws a connection between many dates of destruction and Tisha B’Av.


Just as the Hebrew month of Nissan has several dates associated with redemption – from the exodus from Egypt through to Israel Independence Day – so, too, the month of Av centers on destruction and tragedy.


“On Tisha B’Av, it was decreed that our forefathers would not enter the Land of Israel, Temples were destroyed, Beitar was captured and Jerusalem was sacked,” teach the sages of yore.


Afterwards, they add a whole list of tragedies, including the Spanish Expulsion and the beginning of the Second World War, to the list of things we mourn on this day.


Jewish tradition: love life!


There is an existential wisdom in centralizing all the mourning of Jewish history in one calendar date.


Life is more than one, continuous mourning period.


The power of Jewish tradition is to love life rather than to deify death. We are commanded to mourn when necessary, but not more than appropriate.


As soon as the mourning period is over, the mourner must return to the routine of daily life.


Therefore, we filter our memories of grief into one day, allowing us to enjoy the rest of our lives free of grief and destruction, free to enjoy life and the beauty of creating and building.


Today, I think we must cancel the “Zionist” Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was created to honor the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt, and to remember the Holocaust on the day Jews have historically commemorated tragedy.


Tisha B’Av can become a good hostel to mark the greatest tragedy of our time, much better than the artificial “official” date, created just a generation ago out of political, rather than historic, considerations.


Modern Tisha B’Av


Until then, what should we do on Tisha B’Av? We can no longer relate to Jewish life as if we are speaking about destruction alone. When rebuilt Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, we can no longer cry about the ashes and destruction of yore. It is too large, and too open, a contradiction, an approach that turns the day into an anachronism and outdated for many Israelis.


It is a contradiction that ignores the huge religious and theological significance of the State of Israel.


The State of Israel is not a continuation of the classical, down-and-out Jewish experience merely transported to a new setting.


With our own country, we have changed direction, and tried to break the pathological cycle of exile, pursuit, destruction and pogroms, in favor of independence, sovereignty, control over our own destiny.


As of this writing, we have been successful. Therefore, we must change the character of the national mourning day as well. It is inappropriate to mark the destruction of the temples of old without celebrating the establishment of the third Temple – the State of Israel.


Therefore, Tisha B’Av must undergo a modern change. Half the day should be for fasting and crying, and for the Book of Lamentations. But from noon onward, we should eat a special meal, to give thanks for the redemption. And instead of Lamentations, we should read the Declaration of Independence – a different document, to be sure, but no less binding.


Perhaps I will do this myself from now on. And perhaps this is the meaning of the same Talmudic passage that says, “In the future, God will change Tisha B’Av into a day of joy… and He Himself will build Jerusalem and will gather in the exiles…”


Former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg writes a weekly Torah commentary for Ynetnews

פרסום ראשון: 08.12.05, 18:04
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