Today is the first day of the Hebrew month of Av. While Rosh Chodesh, or the beginning of the new month, for all the other months of the year is marked with joy, this is the beginning of a nine day mourning period leading up to Tisha B’av, the darkest day on the Jewish calendar.
From the sin of the spies, to the destruction of both holy Temples in Jerusalem and many other calamities throughout Jewish history, more than anything it’s a day which symbolizes both the spiritual and physical exile of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel. We fast, we mourn, we reflect on what was, and try to decipher how to move forward, and better ourselves as human beings and as Jews to bring about the final redemption.
For some, it’s understandably difficult to feel that sense of loss. With the focus on the destruction of the Temples and the fall of Jerusalem, we’re talking about events that happened approximately 2000 years ago. The Babylonians, the Romans, those who ransacked and desecrated Judaism’s holiest shires are long gone. But we the Jewish people, we are still here as proof that our enemies have failed.
That being said, unfortunately it seems that in recent years we have become our own worst enemy, which has led only to further Jewish death and devastation. In the early 1990’s, our leadership secretly and illegally initiated the negotiation of a peace deal with our new ‘partners.’ 20 years later and with over 1,500 Jewish souls lost, has anything really changed? Even this week, rumors indicate that yet another round of talks with an Anti-Semitic enemy that glorifies Jihad, and incites to violence is in the cards.
All you need to do, is listen to two little girls on official Palestinian Authority television saying that Jews are the “most evil among creations, barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs,” condemned to “humiliation and hardship,” to see that not peace is not possible – not in this generation or even in the next, with such hate indoctrination being the norm.
But our enemies are in fact saying these things, and we’re moving forward still, either out of ignorance, denial, or both.
That was also the case in the summer of 2005. Despite the warning signs indicating that from a strategic perspective the expulsion of every last Jews from Gaza, and the destruction of those communities, would endanger not only the residents of the South but those in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, it was our very own government that carried out what is probably the most catastrophic, self-inflicting, and senseless policy decision in our young history.
But the exile from Gaza is more than just a travesty in terms of delusional promises offered of a better security reality. I would go as far as to call it a crime against the humanity which existed in that paradise oasis embedded within the sand dunes and the sea.
Eight years later, and our brave, proud, loyal, Zionistic, brothers and sisters are still suffering from our self-imposed buffoonery. Whether it’s a lack of permanent housing, jobs, the decimation of marriages, the psychological damage impacting an entire generation of youth, those who were sent to settle that land by governments on all sides of the spectrum, are still to this day paying the price.
I don’t believe it to be coincidence that the final plight but ultimate failure to save the communities of Gush Katif along with those in the Northern Shomron, also fell out during the gloomy days of the month of Av.
Perhaps it’s inappropriate to compare the destruction of the Temple to the destruction of Jewish life in Gaza. I don’t know. I’m sure there are those who could passionately make the case on both sides of the argument.
But one thing is for certain, while one might find it difficult to cry over our losses from centuries ago during these nine days, it’s hardly challenging to shed tears over the loss of an entire Jewish society, and an entire way of life, here and now.
Veshavu Banim Le’Gvulam–the children shall return to their borders’. Jeremiah (31:15-17)