Today is Tisha B’av. It is not my favorite holiday. Is it anyone’s? This year seems especially poignant. It seems it started early, with the kidnapping of three teen age boys–and their murder–and their funerals as rockets rained down–and the murder of a Palestinian boy. And an “operation” in Gaza.
Six weeks. Six weeks of pain. Of anguish. How can anyone bear it?
Last night a group of people gathered at Congregation Kneseth Israel where I serve as rabbi, as spiritual leader. What could I say to those there?
We read the traditional Book of Lamentations. We sang the traditional songs, Al Naharot Bavel and Eifo Avraham Avinu? And I wondered where Abraham is. Did he cry for his children? Is he still crying? Eli Wisel in a full page paid op-ed piece reminds us that the stories of Abraham remind us, command us that child sacrifice is not the way.
I have asked this question before. How desperate was Hagar when she put her child under a bush and cried out, “Don’t let me look on while the child dies.”? How desperate does a mother have to be to be willing to put her child in a shelter with missiles? To see that there must be other ways?
We read about thunder in Jerusalem and it thundered in Elgin. We sang Eli Eli, a song I first sung in Caesaria where it was written by Hannah Shenesh, It prays that the sand and the sea, the rush of the waters, the crash of the heavens (THUNDER!) never end. It prays that we keep praying.
We read the words of those in Israel today. The struggle for morality, for normalcy, for hope. We read a modern Hasidic tale about the Third Temple. Maybe it is the Dome of the Rock. Maybe it is already there. Maybe peace is possible. Some day. Soon.
For me, this service took a lot of energy. It was shorter than most. But painful, oh so painful.
Today is Tisha B’av and even though it is a fast day we are not prevented from working. The work begins again anew today. To work for a world without baseless hatred.
So today I will two things. I will meet with city officials, the Coalition of Elgin Religious Leader and the Elgin Praying Pastors and talk about peace. Later I will sit at the synagogue as part of National Night Out and hand out cookies (Homemade I hear!) and lemonade to our neighbors.
I can’t solve the crisis in the Middle East. I can’t make peace in Israel. I pray that the current cease fire continues to hold. I can only work here, in Elgin. And then, the words of this Israeli song, filled with hope, will become true:
Od tireh od tireh
Kama tov yiheyeh
Bashana bashana haba’ah
It will yet be. How good it will be. In the year to come.
May it be so!