Kenneth Cohen
Kenneth Cohen

The Simple Message of Tisha B’Av

As I sit and contemplate the meaning of Tisha B’Av, suddenly, the obvious shouts out at me. And as often is the case, the obvious alludes us.

G-d is also known as Avinu Malkeinu, our Father our King. Our Father promised us that He loved us and would take care of us. He kept His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, where He brought us into the good Land of Israel. His complete desire, like any loving father, was to shelter and protect us, and remain close to us. He even built a special home for His children to visit Him and feel that closeness.

These were special times when the entire nation felt great joy and contentment for a long time. But, as this morning’s Torah reading describes, the people became complacent, and they took their Father for granted and disobeyed His rules as to how to live a sacred life. They allowed themselves to be led astray. This angered their Father, who had given them everything. He banished His children and turned His face from them.

This was the Galut, the Exile, that represented this distancing from Hashem. But, our loving Father told us that all we need to do is seek Him out from wherever it is, we are sent. At times, the separation was made unbearable as our hosts in foreign lands treated us badly. But there were other times that we were treated so well, that it caused us to assimilate and intermarry with these kind hosts.

It is all very simple. The results of our turning away from our Father in Heaven, have been catastrophic. But He never stopped loving us, and just as we suffered, He suffered with us. We have this day of the ninth of Av to recognize what went wrong.

We have great comfort in seeing that our Father has set things in motion for us to return to Him. He has handed us His beautiful Land, and has let us know that we are welcome to come home. No longer would we have to be humiliated among the nations. Our return to Israel represents that the Holy name of Our Father in Heaven would be sanctified. The world would be forced to recognize that the G-d of Israel is the One and Only true G-d.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for more than twenty years. He has been teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach, Old Katamon, Jerusalem, for the nearly seventeen years. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles.
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