Jerry Klinger
Shaping the Future by Remembering the Past

A non-PC look at Tisha B’Av

The destruction of the First and Second Temples, on the same day hundreds of years apart was exacerbated by Jew vs. Jew. Hundreds of thousands of Jews died in the revolts. The higher the number sounds better for rabbinic purposes. No matter, the rabbis taught we must look inward for the cause of hate.

Could the destruction of the Temples be part of God’s plan? How else could the Jewish people be spread to the four corners of the earth, wanderers, homeless, yet yearning for the return to Zion?

I often wondered about the loudest lamenting in my yeshivah during Tisha b’Av.  The shrillest came from my teachers who had been Holocaust survivors.  Were they crying for the Temple because, if we had not lost the Temple, there would not have been a Holocaust?

The Jews would never have voluntarily left Israel.  We would never have been spread throughout the world to be hated for millennia.  We would have remained in our ancient home hated by neighbors, just like today.

The Temples were destroyed. The Jews did spread God’s light to the world. 10% of the ancient world, the Roman world, was or were deeply influenced by Jews and Jewish beliefs by the time Jesus lived. Did the Jews pave the way?  Was the destruction of the Temples not the Jews fault?  Could the destruction have been part of God’s world plan?

My rabbis would have given me a good curse for that question?  I spent a lot of time in the principal’s office for asking questions like where did God come from. I usually asked those things during Talmud class…bad timing.

Tisha b’Av and the Jewish expulsion from Spain are intimately linked as tragedies of Jewish history. All occurred on the same day. It took 1,400 years to find another Tisha b’Av cataclysm. There have been near Tisha b’Av horrors – crusades, expulsions, etc.  But nothing dead on comparable to the Spanish expulsions of Tisha b’Av 1492.

BTW – Columbus sailed for the New World in 1492 with Jews on board.

The Spanish expulsions were terrible for the generation that experienced them. There was no mass murder, no mass enslavement of Jews.

They were ordered out of town. Many chose to remain and covert.  Some tried to be hidden Jews, Marranos.  Those who left, left everything, their homes, their money, their previous material lives but they left with their lives.

Most who left town flooded the Muslim world, who welcomed them.  The Jews brought intellectual wealth, energetic economic development to their new homes.  The Jews who fled to Arab lands saved millions of future Jewish lives from the destruction of the Nazis.

Other Spanish Jews fled to relative freedom and toleration in Holland. Incredible opportunities and possibilities opened for them. Spanish Jews traveled to the opening lands of Eastern Europe where they created Jewish worlds, despite religious oppression, Jewishly richer than that of the Golden Age of Spain.

Marranos became the early founders of Jewish life and Jewish freedom in the New World.  The Jew was welcomed there as nowhere before. The blessing of Genesis 12:3 became truer and truer in the New World.

“And I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

The toleration of the Jew in the New World eventually led to universal freedom for all refugees to the Americas. What the Sephardim started would later save millions of Eastern European and Russian Jewish refugees in America.

The Spanish expulsion and the Spanish Inquisition saved countless Jewish lives from Hitler.  Was that part of God’s plan?  How can we call the Spanish expulsions that saved so many Jews a terror to be mourned on Tisha b’Av?

Scholars have searched and searched and searched for a Tisha b’Av link with the Shoah.  Some Jewish sources stretch the truth about the Shoah and Tisha b’Av.  Himmler received legal authority to continue killing the Jews on Tisha b’Av, 1941.  By then, the Nazis had already killed nearly 2,000,000 anyway.

The Holocaust is an international, Jewish calamity that singes Jewish existence even today. It has no connection to Tisha b’Av.  1/3 of world Jewry was exterminated in the Holocaust.  The survivors horrifically scarred till the day they died.  The Holocaust experience transferred to their children, and the trauma passed on to at least 1/3 of all Jewry since. How many millions of Jews have been lost to Jewry because the Rabbis refuse to answer the eternal question, where was God?

The Rabbis like to put the question on its head.  God wept while the Jews died.  It was man’s fault, not God’s.  The Rabbis can’t even come up with a Halachically mandated day of prayer or even a single prayer mandated for the Holocaust.  They ignore the reality and wait for the generation of the Shoah to die off.

Jews can’t expect the non-Jews to remember the Holocaust if the Jews won’t. The Shoah does not even get a mention on Tisha b’Av but the expulsion from Spain does.

If the Ashkenazim don’t have a Tisha b’Av event, what about the Sephardim.  Like the Ashkenazim, they don’t.  Aish Ha’Torah found a link.  The Jews of Rhodes, after the Nazis occupied the island, were sent to the death camps on Tisha b’Av.  That’s pretty much it.

Maybe it was God’s plan, begun with the destruction of the Temples on Tisha b’Av, to send the Jewish people on a mission for God through history to improve the world.

Millennia of horrific suffering, pain, exile, homelessness, and death for the Jews was the Jewish eternal lot until the birth of Israel.

Fiddler on the Roof’s Tevye said to God, while escaping Anatevka to the unknowns of America, “But, once in a while, can’t you choose someone else?’  It was not Tisha b’Av.

I guess I’m going to be sent to the principal’s office again for questioning Tisha b’Av.

About the Author
Jerry is the president and founder of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, www.JASHP.org. He is the son of Survivors of Buchenwald and Bergen Belsen. He is a former Yeshivah student and served with the IDF in the Sinai. He is the author of over 100 articles in publications ranging from the Jerusalem Post to the Prairie Connection to the San Diego Jewish World. Jerry is frequently interviewed on T.V. and Radio about the American Jewish experience. The Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation has completed projects in 37 US. States and in 5 countries. Over 7,000,000 people annually benefit from one of JASHP's projects. JASHP has completed seven projects in Israel. Most recently, the first ever historic memorial to the Exodus in Israel, July 2017. The Exodus was known as the "Ship that Launched a Nation". December 2017, the Machal Memorial in Jerusalem to the 5,000 Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers who came to Israel when they needed her most during the War of Independence.
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