A Message from Rabbi Goldberg
Next Tuesday is the Jewish holy day of the Ninth of Av (Tisha B’av). This day commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. More broadly it is a reminder of the tragic lot of too many Jewish communities throughout the centuries. Some of us will choose to fast on this day, as ancient tradition dictates. At the very least I hope we will feel summoned to remember the high price often paid in Jewish history for being Jewish.
As our State of Israel fights a war to protect its citizens from an unrepentant and ominous foe, the message of Tisha B’av is more timely than in many years past. There are people in the world who begrudge our existence. We would like to feel as if we are past such concerns. Israelis want to feel this way as well. Sadly, the world seems unwilling to cooperate.
In my adult memory the only time the State of Israel was widely praised in the world was during the First Gulf War, when Israelis agreed to sit in sealed rooms and pray they would not be gassed. Jews being gassed, that’s a concept the world seems to understand.
I am not sorry if the State of Israel and the Jewish people have bowed out of that role. The world will have to deal with a new kind of Jew. I am also not sorry that the Hamas terrorists won’t have there “Rosh Hashanah surprise” wherein they were to send death squads in their terror tunnels to kill innocent kibbutniks.
As I have said before, Israel wants to be Scandinavia, a tragic wish since the Middle East is far removed from such a peaceful place. Hamas expects Israel to behave like France and, when the terror strikes long enough, give up and go home. This is also tragic for them because Israelis are already home. The rest of us who don’t live in Israel but are conscientious Jews should also remember that the destruction of the Second Temple, according to the ancient Sages, was brought about because the Jews themselves could not treat each other with respect and compassion.
I would therefore argue that, in our current crisis, we remember to listen to each other, and to remember that, whether we like it or not, to be a Jew is still to live in history. And history is not always so kind to us.
Now is the time to embrace the richness of our Jewish heritage and to protect the cherished and always vulnerable privilege of being a Jew. Dickens, no Jew himself of course, had it right: we are living in the best of times and in the worst of times.
Am Yisrael chai!
Rabbi Edwin Goldberg
P.S. – Please join us this Friday for our Annual Outdoor Shabbat, when we will welcome Rabbi Conover back from Israel.