It's good to be home after returning Monday night from the CNS Israel Trip. But, oy, does it hurt to have left home behind.
And how appropriate to be torn between homes in the midst of the "Three Weeks" on our
calendar between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av (Tisha Be'Av), days which recall the destructions of both Jerusalem Temples, among other moments of loss in Jewish history.
Tradition has suggested that the following tragedies occurred on Tisha Be'av: the negative report of the spies in the desert, the fall of Betar (the last holdout of the Jewish people in the Bar Kochba Revolt), the edict for the Spanish expulsion of Jews was issued, and World War I began. Historicity is perhaps less important than meaning here. Tisha B'Av is a day of loss. It is, simply said, a very sad day for the Jews.
|The Partizans' Memorial at Yad Vashem|
Just last week I stood with our CNS Israel Trip chevreh in the Judean Desert, looking out from Masada atthe very Roman camps that marched against 2000 years ago - and eventually exiled and destroyed - the remnants of the Second Jewish commonwealth. Just last week CNS member Josh Kornbluth marked his Bar Mitzvah, reading Torah and sharing a drasha overlooking the Negev. (His drasha and reflections from the trip are available online here.) Just last week CNS member Michael Tarle stood at the Partizan's Memorial, ritually marking the heroism of his grandparents, both Partizans from Vilna, Lithuania. Just last week the Netivot Shalom chevreh joined in Shabbat Davening with the Masorti community Mayanot in Jerusalem. Just last week... Just 200 years ago...
The tribulations of Jewish History, interspersed with miracles of survival and creativity, are just dizzying.
We live this dizzyness on Tisha B'Av, refraining from eating, drinking, bathing, intimacy, wearing leather shoes, and learning Torah (except for topics pertaining to the day). This year our community will mark Tisha B'Av in the following ways:
1) Erev Tisha B'Av (Monday, Aug. 8): We will meet in the CNS Library at 8:00pm for Ma'ariv and for the Book of Eicha, followed by a few of the Kinot, traditional sad-songs. People should bring flashlights, and prepare to sit on the floor (if possible), as it is a traditional sign of mourning, which Tisha B'Av is for the entire Jewish People. We will say the service, not sing it. The tone for this evening is unique in Jewish tradition - soft, sad, and somber. There is an additional tradition to not reach out to those around us, not even to greet others, sequestering ourselves somehow to alone-ness despite gathering together. It is both magic and painful.
2) Yom Tisha B'Av (Tuesday, Aug. 9): We will be joining together with Congregation Beth Israel for Shacharit starting at 8:00 am at Beth Israel (1630 Bancroft Way, Berkeley), where services will follow the customs of Beth Israel. Following Shacharit and Kinnot there will be a learning session at 10am.
3) Tisha B'Av Minchah at Netivot Shalom (Tuesday, August 9): We will gather at 7:15 pm in the CNS Library for Minchah and Torah Service. Unique to this Minchah Service is the practice of wearing Tallit and Teffilin (traditionally not worn on the morning of the holiday). Minchah marks start of the shift in the somber mood of the day towards Tu B'Av and the seven weeks on consolation.
I long to return to Israel, its sacred scent and dizzying array of complex issues so recent I feel them to my core, barely able to remember where and when I am.
But tradition teaches us
that those who remember the destruction of Jerusalem and feel the brokenness of the world will be part of their rebuilding
May that be so, soon and in our days,