I thought about Tisha B’Av recently, as I stood in Jerusalem’s Davidson Archeological Park (thank you, William Davidson Foundation!). There, you can walk on the very street that Jews used, 2,000 years ago, to ascend to the Temple of Jerusalem. You can see the remnants of the stairs that led to the Temple entrance though Robinson’s Arch, the oldest overpass in the world, and most poignantly, you can see the stones from the Temple compound that Roman soldiers threw onto the street below as they destroyed the holy site. As if one needed proof, one of those stones is inscribed with the words “lebeit hatoke’a,” meaning, the place from which the shofar was sound in the Temple’s esplanade.Read more
The word “horizon” is tricky. We generally refer to the horizon as an indication of expansiveness, even limitlessness. But etymologically, the word means exactly the opposite. It comes from the Greek word “horizein,” which means “limit.” The horizon is, in fact, the limit of our vision — in Hebrew, as well, where the word for horizon, “ofek,” has the same root as “restrain, constraint, limit.”Read more
The Talmud, the Jewish people’s greatest work of collective genius, is the direct consequence of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple that we commemorate on Tisha Be’av.Read more
One feels as if there has been a conscious attempt to minimize the days of mourning and sadness in the calendar, packing as much grief into Tisha Be’Av as possible.
Whenever the Jews have had sovereignty in their land, they have messed up and lost it.
If the purpose of Tisha Be’Av is to warn us about the dangers of internecine hatred, it has failed miserably.
It all started with name-calling, demonization, and polarization. It ended in twenty centuries of tragedy.
We are now in a period that Jewish tradition calls “the three weeks,” marking the terrible times of the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E. The “three weeks” refers to the time elapsed between the first breach of the city walls (commemorated by the fast of 17th of Tamuz) and the destruction of the Temple on the 9th of Av.Read more