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Rabbi's Week In Review - 8/9/2022

08/09/2022 04:23:33 PM

Aug9

We observed Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, this past weekend. It’s a day that commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples, and any churban, any persecution, that has befallen the Jewish people. It culminates a three-week period of mourning on the Jewish calendar. (This year, we actually observed it on the 10th day of Av because it is a fast day — a fast day other than Yom Kippur is postponed by a day when it falls on Shabbat. So the observance began Saturday night after Shabbat and went through the day on Sunday.)

The observance began, as is appropriate, in a low-key if not sad mood. We gathered together and studied the meaning of the day, and Eichah, the Book of Lamentations, that is traditionally read on Tisha B’Av. The Book of Lamentations describes exile, destruction of our Temple and harsh punishment. It attributes this punishment being meted out for our sins — sins of sinat chinam, baseless hatred and/or sins against respecting the land. Rather than blame our enemies for what is arguably too severe punishment for whatever we did wrong, we take it upon ourselves in Eichah to accept responsibility for our own bad acts.

Instead of approaching our study of Tisha B’Av and Eichah with a sense of mourning, we directed our intention to emotions of empathy. Seeing that our punishment of exile rendered us the status of refugees, we discussed how we can use our own refugee experience(s) to engender a greater sense of empathy for today’s refugees and asylum-seekers. They are the people without a true homeland to anchor their lives.

On August 15, a group from Kol Ami plans to spend time supporting the ongoing work of our justice partner Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund. Migrant farmworkers do the grueling work of picking our fruit in Lafayette County, Missouri. It is one way we can carry the lessons of Tisha B’Av forward with empathy and purpose in creating a more just community and a more just world.

Tisha B’Av ends on a more upbeat note. This year, I served on a panel of rabbis addressing the tension between tradition and modernity reflected in the life of the Rav, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. Listening to the other rabbis on the panel, I was quietly proud (my inner monologue) of how we at Kol Ami have taken the lessons of empathy imparted by Tisha B’Av and turned them into positive action.

We go forth from Tisha B’Av with seven weeks of consolation and the lifting of our spirits, all leading to the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. During that time, we assess our behavior over the past year, and recommit ourselves to turn to righteous action in the year to come.  

Let us take this time of positive reflection over the next seven weeks to commit toward doing what is good and right, to continue our work of healing in our communities, coming together in our Kol Ami family, caring for others and caring for one another.

Thu, October 6 2022 11 Tishrei 5783