Eleven Months Part 5: Start Now

by Harry

Tisha B’Av begins at sundown tomorrow Saturday, July 28.

The saddest day of the Jewish year is one filled with tragedy upon tragedy. One of these tragedies, the destruction of the Second Temple is said to have been caused by sinat chinam, baseless hatred.

Is baseless hatred actually justified hatred that nets the hater nothing, as is concluded in the lesson I linked to just now? Or is it hatred for hatred’s sake?

You know what? It doesn’t matter. You know why? Because everyone gets angry and everyone has the potential to hate. Sometimes anger seems justified: You break my heart, I’m hurt and I’m angry with you. You hurt someone I love, I’m hurt and I’m really angry. And, if I hold on to that anger, it becomes hate.

One story behind the destruction of the Second Temple is a story of clinging to anger, public humiliation, more anger, and vengeance.

Hatred destroys. It destroys our cities, but it also destroys us. Hatred focuses ourselves on ourselves. Hatred removes the possibility of connection to each other from our consciousness.

Tisha B’Av is about remembering these tragedies, but not in order to cling to the pain they caused the Jewish people. We can note our tragedies without adding them to a scorecard of pain and suffering and reasons why we have the right to be angry.

It’s about remembering those tragedies so that we can move on. We are hurt. We are angry. We are bereaved. These are normal human states, but we can take this day and focus on moving forward. Letting go.

As usual, someone else said this much better and more succinctly:

Tisha b’Av is the beginning of Teshuvah, the point of turning toward this process by turning toward a recognition of our estrangement from God, from ourselves, and from others. ( Rabbi Alan Lew (z”l): This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared, 2003, p. 52)

And so, in the middle of summer, in the middle of the heat and the bright, long days, we can consider those limitless possibilities that summer brings to mind, but first we should turn inward and do a little letting go.