Devorim/Tisha B’Av — “Cry, O Zion”

 

TISHA B’AV /DEVORIM (Deuteronomy, 1:1-3:22)

“Cry, O Zion …”

 

Tisha B’Av.  The Ninth day of the Month of Av.  A time of sadness. A time of mourning.  A time of tragedy.

 

Cry, O Zion, and her cities, like a woman in the pains of childbirth, and like a young woman dressed in sackcloth, mourning for her young husband.”  (From the Tisha B’Av prayers.)

 

Imagine the agonizing physical pain of childbirth; what could be more painful?  Envision the emotional pain of a young widow; what could be more heartrending?

 

“(Cry, O Zion …) … for the palace that is abandoned because of the sin of the sheep of her flocks, and for the entrance of blasphemers into the chambers of her Sanctuary…

 

“… for the exile of the servants of G-d… and for the blood that was spilt like the waters of her canals…

 

“… for the desecration of the Temple’s vessels and her incense Altar…

 

“… for the Divine Glory that was exiled at the time of the destruction of her Temples

 

“… for the poundings and the numerous blows with which her aristocrats were beaten and for the smashing on rocks of her infants and her youths…

 

“… for the joy of her enemies when they made sport of her calamities and the tormenting of her free-spirited men, her noble-minded and pure-hearted people…

 

“… for the cries of those who vilified her when the numbers of her corpses increased and for the clamor of those who cursed her inside the courtyards of her Tabernacle…

 

“… for Your Name which was profaned by the mouth of those who arose to torment her…

 

“ … Cry, O Zion, and her cities, like a woman in the pains of childbirth, and like a young woman dressed in sackcloth, mourning for her young husband.” 

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Yes, Tisha B’Av is a time to cry.  It is a time to cry over all the tragedies that have befallen our People on that fateful day.

 

“Cry, O Zion …”  Cry over the Israelites in the desert who rejected the Land of Israel on Tisha B’Av.  Cry over the fact we wandered for forty years until the entire adult generation died without entering the Land. 

 

“Cry, O Zion …”  Cry over the destructions of both Temples on Tisha B’Av.  Cry over the Roman general who committed unspeakable acts of immorality in the holiest place on earth.  Cry over the fact that the Romans plowed over the Temple and built over it a new city that was off-limits to Jews.

 

“Cry, O Zion …”   Cry over the expulsion of Jews from Spain and England on Tisha B’Av.  Cry over the inability to live in a country due to the terrible crime of being Jewish.

 

“Cry, O Zion …”  Cry over World War One, that began on Tisha B’Av, laying the groundwork for the German resentment that led to the Holocaust.  Cry for the Jews of Warsaw who were deported to Treblinka beginning on Tisha B’Av.

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Our People have suffered greatly during this time of year.  Consider the following letter that was once sent to a Jewish community:

 

“…According to the law … and in accordance with decisions of the … government … you are commanded to evacuate your homes and to leave the area … by the end of Tisha b’Av … at 12 midnight. At that time the stage of ‘voluntary evacuation’ will end and all the entrances … will be closed … for from this time, on … remaining … will be illegal.

 

On the 10th of Av… security forces will arrive to evict you from your homes and will instruct you to leave …

 

From the 12th of Av… from one minute after midnight, the stage of forced eviction will begin, when security forces will arrive and evict residents who have chosen to stay and who will force the security forces to confront them, with the goal of fulfilling the law… “

 

How frightening!  Government officials telling Jews that they must leave their homes!  People who worked and built businesses and homes were told by the government that Jews were not welcome in that vicinity.

 

When did this take place?  Who was this government that warned its Jewish citizens to get out or be thrown out?  Was it the Spanish government of 1492?  Could it be, perhaps, the government of Edward I who expelled the Jews from England in 1290?  Who was it who wanted so desperately to make Jewish neighborhoods Judenrein?

 

Sadly, the above letter was written by neither a Spaniard nor a Briton.  It isn’t from 1492, or even 1942!  Believe it or not, the above letter was distributed this week by the Israeli Defense Forces.

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The Israeli government has decided that the way to bring peace to the Middle East is by evicting 9,000 honest, hard-working Jews from their homes in 21 communities in Gaza.   This land will then be presented on a silver platter to a nation of terrorists who have sworn to use the formerly Jewish settlements as a base of operations for new terror.

 

The Talmud tells us that with the advent of the Month of Av (which began last Shabbos) we curtail expressions of joy.  The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) advises that due to the inauspicious nature of this time of year, one should try to postpone legal conflicts with Gentiles until the end of the month.  At the very least, they should be delayed until after Tisha B’Av.  Now, to our sorrow, we will witness JEW AGAINST JEW in the days immediately following Tisha B’Av.  The army has announced that electricity and water will be shut off beginning on Wednesday. 

 

In this week’s Torah Reading, Moses laments over the disunity of the People of Israel.  Unfortunately, it seems that little has changed.

 

How tragic!  After all that our People have endured and continue to endure, we are about to be faced with the notion of Jewish soldiers throwing Jews out of their homes.  Imagine how this will look next Monday when the world watches this travesty.  Kicking Jews out to make room for people who want to kill as many Jews as they can and make the whole country Judenrein!  Imagine the celebrations of the Palestinians as they sing for joy at our suffering!

 

“Cry, O Zion … for the exile of the servants of G-d… and for the blood that was spilt like the waters of her canals… for the poundings and the numerous blows with which her aristocrats were beaten and for the smashing on rocks of her infants and her youths…for the joy of her enemies when they made sport of her calamities … for Your Name which was profaned by the mouth of those who arose to torment her…

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This website is dedicated to sharing thoughts on the weekly Torah Reading.  I normally try to stay out of politics.  There are definitely many sides to this issue.  But how can I remain silent in the face of the suffering of 9000 of my soon-to-be-evicted brethren?

 

In one respect, it is not my place to comment on the planned disengagement from Gaza.  I am neither a military expert nor political strategist.  Perhaps someone smarter than me will see the wisdom of this retreat.

 

No, I’m not an expert.  I’m a simple Jew who is tired of seeing his people suffer on Tisha B’Av and year-round at the hands of merciless people who revel in the spilling of Jewish blood.  I am heart-broken that the government of “Zion”, a government that once encouraged the settlers to build their homes and their communities, has turned its back on the very people it is supposed to support and protect.  Yes, cry, O Zion!

 

What’s that you say?  The majority of Israelis supposedly support the Gaza withdrawal?  That only makes it “legal”; it doesn’t make it right!  Contrary to popular belief, democracy is not a Torah concept.  If the Nation of Israel operated on the basis of majority rule, we would have listened to the 80% of the nation who chose not to follow Moses out of Egypt!

 

To be sure, we, the Jews of America, love and continue to support our brethren in Israel.  We love and support ALL of our brethren in Israel.  But how can we be silent when some of those brethren are prepared to sacrifice the others on the altar of “peace” with those who seek to destroy us?  Cry, O Zion!

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Is there a silver lining in this dark cloud?  Perhaps.  Maybe our Father in Heaven will look with compassion upon the suffering of our People and finally bring the redemption of Israel and world peace.  But if He does, it will be, in my humble opinion, in spite of this ill-advised disengagement, not because of it.

 

Let us pray that this year’s Month of Av will be the last time we have to mourn.  Let us look forward to next Tisha B’Av when we can look back and say, as we do on Passover, “Remember how bad it used to be?”

 

Have a Good Shabbos and a meaningful fast.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz 

 

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This is the weekly message at http://www.TorahTalk.net.   Copyright © 2000-2009 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.

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Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (http://www.Brisrabbi.com)  and chaplain in Monsey, New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

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Published in: on July 12, 2005 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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