It is only a little more than 24 hours before the start of Tisha B’Av – the day that the Jewish nation fasts and publicly mourns the destruction of the first and second Temples. More than that, on Tisha B’Av we mourn the fact that we are in such a state that we have not yet merited another Temple and the Messianic era which will result in the redemption of the world.
For 6 days now, except for Shabbat, we have refrained from eating meat, drinking wine and participating in other pleasurable activities, to help us really get in touch with the reality that we live in.
Has it helped?
Over the last few months the conflict between the Women of the Wall, fighting for the right to be able to worship how they want at the Kotel and the Women for the Wall, fighting to preserve the Holiness of the site has evolved from a conflict to an all out war that has exploded in the media. This “she says” – “she says” situation has resulted in not only a desecration of the most holy site on earth, but an embarrassment of the Jewish people as a whole and a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s name). This week things have just continued to escalate – can we not even try to have a small amount of love for each other during the 9 days? Apparently not.
Now today, an article is published about a lead Rabbi from the “Council of Torah Sages” who apparently said that Jews who wear knitted kippas are Amalek (an enemy of the Jewish people), not Jews, and should be wiped off the face of the earth. Seriously? During the 9 days, Rabbi Cohen? Are you suffering from protein deprivation?
We know from history, going all the way back to the Torah, that when the Jewish people act in Unity, G-d blesses us, even if we are “wrong” and when we are divided – look out! I cannot think of a time in history when the Jewish people have been more divided than we are right now, and well, Heaven help us!
These behaviors are not Jewish values. This is not what Judaism teaches. And yet, this is the Judaism that the world sees – a fractured, childish, petty, divided, mean Judaism that looks like it is more about rules than about a relationship with G-d and more about one-upsmanship than about love and unity. But that is not the Judaism of the Torah – that is not the Judaism I embraced when I read the Ramchal, the Chofetz Chaim, and all the other leaders of previous generations – no that is not their Judaism at all.
Their Judaism was one that teaches us that embarrassing someone in public is as bad as killing them, that if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all. Their Judaism was one that teaches us that if our brother is in need we sacrifice in order to help him and that if our enemy’s donkey is overladen, we relieve him of the burden in spite of our feelings towards his owner.
Their Judaism is the Judaism that caused my husband to stop and repair the broken wheel on this Charedi Rabbi’s wheelchair (even though my husband wears a knitted kippah – gasp!) and their Judaism is the reason my husband never asked about the religious persuasion of the man he donated a kidney to earlier this year. Their Judaism is the Judaism that taught us to love all Jews equally regardless of whether or not we agree with them, and to behave in a manner befitting children of the King. And their Judaism is the Judaism that will bring the redemption of the world, if we would only listen to them.
Heaven help us.