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The Reformation of Tisha B'Av
I'm gasping at the realization that Tisha B'Av, like so many other things in Torah-True Judaism™, is being completely perverted from its traditional significance.
In the previous post, I criticized a commentator who announced that "Yiddishkeit" declares that Tisha B'Av is all about the loss of our connection with the Creator. But it's not just some random commentator on this blog. The title of a Tisha B'Av video by a very popular Torah lecturer is "A Day Of Yearning, Not Sadness," with the subtitle explaining that "the point of Tisha B'Av is to focus on what life would be like with the presence of God in it."
No, no, no!
The point of Tisha B'Av is to be sad. Sad for the destruction of Jerusalem - the city (of which the Beis Hamikdash was the most significant part) and the people. Sad for the loss of sovereignty, the loss of national pride, the persecution and suffering and exile and death. That's what Eicha speaks about. And likewise to be sad about the suffering, exile and death of countless Jews over history.
Simultaneously (as sharply expressed at the end of Kinnah 17, Im tochalna). we are supposed to contemplate the cause of all this suffering. Which, according to the prophets regarding the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash, included such sins as idolatry, oppression of the unfortunate, and resenting rebuke. And in the case of the destruction of the second Beis HaMikdash and the fall of Jerusalem, it was sinat chinam - not some vague mussar idea, but sectarianism, the sort of tribalism that was actually promoted as official policy by many people in Israel over the past year.
I'm coming across endless examples of people getting Tisha B'Av wrong. The Stone Chumash, in its commentary to the Haftora that we read before Tisha B'Av, describes it as teaching about how we must lament the underlying causes of the destruction. Okay, fine. But it proceeds to speak about how we must enhance our Divine Service and knowledge of Torah. Yet if you look at what Yeshayah actually says, he talks about Hashem hating the divine service because the people were thinking that it was sufficient to be doing that, while they were simultaneously corrupted by bribery and not fighting on behalf of the oppressed. (Which is all too relevant today - but where are the mass video screenings on that topic?!)
There's a much larger theme to discuss here, about the reformation from a religion centered on important national and societal issues to one centered on personal spiritual growth, but we'll leave that for another time.