Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vital Mourning: Tisha Be'av's True Meaning

Sir, - While your editorial titled "Tisha Be'av's meaning" seemingly was an attempt to deal with the important and legitimate issue of injecting the traditional day of fast and mourning with greater contemporary relevance, it contains unfortunately, a number of rather serious misperceptions that deserve to be addressed.

In flippantly describing the Temple only as a "holy slaughterhouse", you fail to understand its major unifying role as the national and spiritual focus of the Jewish people. The festivals of Pesach, Succot, and Shevuot attracted myriads of Pilgrims from both within Israel and the Diaspora. If one considers the present day fact, that tens of thousands from all over the Jewish world are drawn to the festival "Birkat Kohanim" that takes place at the Kotel, a small inkling of appreciation can be set aside for the Temple in all its glory.
Should the fact that the fast was postponed by a day because of Shabbat diminish its significance in any way, or perhaps as you suggest even being called off? Should the same measures be taken for Yom Hazikaron or Yom Haatzmaut when they are pushed off because of calendar considerations? 

If one attended a synagogue and participated in the atmosphere of mourning and in the recital of the 'Kinot' on the fast day it would become quite clear that Tisha Be'av relates not only to the destruction of the physical Temple but to all the calamities and massacres that befell the Jewish people throughout their history beginning with the Babylonians, Romans, Crusades and the Holocaust.

It is vital to understand that only by keeping these memories alive could a dispersed and shattered people be able to come from the four corners of the earth and revive an ancient language and an ancient homeland.

Petach Tikva

[Video credit: The Temple Institute]