“Mourn, oh Israel, over the destruction of the Temple that YHVH destroyed”
It’s the 9th of Av, a day when Jews around the world mourn the many tragedies in our history, the many times that Jews were slaughtered, tortured, degraded, and ejected.
Yet, little emphasis is placed on the great empires, Greece, Rome, Babylon, Spain, Germany, those that starved us, gassed us, burned us, defiled our Temple, and dispersed the Jewish population throughout the world. The focus in Jewish literature is on us; what we did wrong, what we ourselves have sown with our small-minded hatred for one another, our total reliance on flesh and blood kings guided by a hunger for power and wealth rather than good and truth.
Rarely do we cry out in bitter anger at other nations. Our tradition places the onus squarely on our shoulders. “Through our many sins Jerusalem and our nation are disgraced by all who surround us.”
So too the modern State of Israel must not look around to apply blame. We cannot look at the nations that surround us and throw up our hands, saying “they hate us, what can we do?” We must not look to the Palestinians and say “we have offered our hand in peace, but they have pushed it away, what should we do?” We must look at ourselves. What mistakes have we made?
What has guided our decisions over the past sixty years? Have we fought for what is right or for what is politically expedient?
Where is the righteousness and goodness of Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Jerusalem, where all people can live freely? Have we declared this sovereignty proudly and independently or have we offered foreign worship to U.N partition plans and conceptions of European statehood? Have we established our borders with an eye for what is right, or have we perpetuated conflict by conceding to forces of hatred and ignorance?
What is the state of our relationship with our Muslim cousins? Have we talked to them about Allah, The Life of the Worlds, or have we approached them with a cold secular face? Have we engaged in the discourse of Ishmael, the cries of the son of Abraham that rose to the ears of The King of Kings, or have we simply traded in the riches of Babylon? Have we looked at our neighbors as fellow human beings, Sons of Noah, or have we rejected them as less than human, incapable of improving?
Today is the day to look at our own mistakes and to rectify them. We must love ourselves, love others, and make hard decisions.