Tisha B'Av

Shelach Lecha: You Can Quote Me

Great people are not afraid to put their name behind their convictions. “And Calev quieted the people for Moshe and said, ‘We will rise and rise and inherit the land, as we can surely do it’” (13:30). Those of lesser quality prefer to hide behind the cloak of anonymity. “And the people who were with him said, ‘We will not be able to go up’”. It is easy to criticize, complain and condemn; as long as one can hide behind others, it is not “me” but rather “they” who will be blamed should things go wrong. It takes courage to stand up and do the same thing publicly.

Tisha B'Av: The Joy of Jerusalem

"Whoever mourns for Jerusalem will merit seeing its joy" (Ta'anit 30b). Our Sages seem to be offering words of comfort to those pious Jews over the millennium, who faithfully internalized the suffering of the Jewish people. Though they would not merit seeing the rebuilding of Jerusalem in their own lifetime—that is a blessing reserved for our generation—they would merit seeing the joy of Jerusalem after they were resurrected from the dead.  

Va'etchanan: Time for Comfort

Life is so unfair. While we believe that ultimately (and ultimately can take an eternity!) justice must and will prevail—to believe otherwise would be to deny the essence of Judaism—it is clear that life is full of injustices. Moshe Rabbeinu was the greatest person who ever lived. Yet he was denied his one wish, to be able to walk in and breathe the air of the land of Israel. Moshe continued pleading his case until G-d "angrily" told him, enough already! Your request is denied.

Shushan Purim: United People, Divided Holiday

“And Haman said to King Achashverosh: There is a certain nation scattered and divided amongst the nations” (3:8). Haman was well aware of the Achilles heel of the Jewish nation, the divisiveness that so often characterizes our community. As a small nation, lacking (at that time) a homeland, such unity is much more crucial for our survival than for that of other nations. When we are divided, we are weak; and when we are weak, we are vulnerable. Haman could thus request that, “if it pleases the king, let it be written to destroy them”.

Thoughts on Tisha B'Av: Constructive Hatred

One does not have to look very hard to find sources within our tradition that allow, encourage, or even demand that we “hate” others.  While the mitzvah to love our neighbour as ourselves is, according to Rabbi Akiva, the fundamental principle of the Torah, many restrict our neighbour (re'acha) to re'acha b’mitzvot, our neighbour in mitzvoth, excluding those are not observant.

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