Tisha B'Av

The Nine Days: Aharon's Yahrzeit

“Aharon the priest ascended Hor Hahar and died there in the fortieth year... in the fifth month on the first of the month” (Bamidbar 33:38). It is on rare occasions that the Torah actually dates events recorded therein. Even the giving of the Torah at Sinai has no biblical date associated with it. Birthdays, anniversaries and yahrzeits are of little interest to the Bible. The tradition that Moshe dies on the 7th of Adar is one deduced, without 100% accuracy, from the narrative of Sefer Yehoshua.

The Three Weeks: Through the Eyes of a Child

With the destruction of the Temple and the Babylonian exile, the period of prophecy came to an end. "Only fools and children continue to prophesize", the Talmud (Bava Batra 12b) declares. While the link between modern-day prophets and fools is quite obvious, it is much less so vis a vis children. Why were children singled out as ones who believe that prophecy is relevant today? 

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.  

Tisha B'Av: Courage of Convictions

“Do not be afraid of [any] man”. Parshat Devarim, which is always read on the Shabbat before Tisha B’Av, begins with Moshe’s exhortations regarding the establishment of a system of justice. Such a system must operate free from outside influences. When fear enters into the deliberations of those who interpret the law, or into other positions of leadership, society is doomed.

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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