It has been a serene, butÂ comforting Tisha B’Av here in Perth.Â The sombre tone of the kinot and the luxury of an unrushed Sunday to read through some of the historic tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people provides the opportunity to contemplate and reflect on the unique Jewish experience.Â Despite all, we endure.Â Rabbi Sacks often points out that the Hebrew language has no word for “history”, only “memory”.Â Zachor means not only to recall, but to internalise the lessons of our past.Â We do not deny the divine decree, but we do petition G-d for the deliverance of Jewish destiny, an end to exile and a return to peace, joy, and perfection within our own environment.Â
MyÂ anger invoked from reading last week’s Maccabean will not subside.Â We are constantly told that the memory of the Holocaust needs to be preserved to avoid its repetition.Â Â Yet we should be aware that if we can’t remember generations of Jewish persecution and the consequence of exile, we will also ultimately not be able to remember an eventÂ that occured within the lifetime of our senior generation.Â Â Tisha B’AvÂ containsÂ kinot regarding the Shoah, and is able to link thisÂ to the context of JewishÂ passage throughout the ages.Â Â I’m starting to agree with the Rabbi’sÂ who advocate that Yom Hashoah should be discontinuedÂ and integrated into Tisha B’Av, for it is only this form of commemoration thatÂ gives religious meaning toÂ the churban – our sacrifice to our Jewish identity.Â
Sacrifice is not just a physical act.Â ItÂ remains within our liturgy today as an apt metaphor for character refinement.Â Our world is complex, and our decisions are complex.Â Occurances do not always seem fair, and sometimes people suffer on behalf of other people.Â Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.Â We learn from all of this not to expect everything exactly the way we want it (even though we have a generation of consumers who believe otherwise).Â The Jewish people stand together, accountable for each other and collectively responsible for their subservience to G-d and their obligations to Torah.Â So when we have a Jewish public forum in whichÂ the very concept of sacrifice can be maligned, andÂ theÂ home of Jewish sacrifice totally rejected, we need to stand upÂ and defend our tradition from destruction.Â
There was an incredible presentation last night by aÂ Jewish refugeeÂ from anÂ Arab country who relatedÂ howÂ his Bar Mitzvah was held in secret, how his family’s wealth was plundered, and his familyÂ wasÂ murdered before hisÂ eyes.Â He spoke of how he was tortured in prison, escaped through to Europe, and foundÂ his way, without resources or knowledge of his surrounds to the shores of Australia.Â He talked of how assistance from the community was able to allow him toÂ resettle, and how throughout his whole life he was conscious of his Jewish identity and was able to maintain faith.Â It is not appropriate to disclose the identity or details of this amazing story within a blog, but suffice to say that human tolerance for sufferingÂ can show strength beyond all comprehensible means, and that hope is something that will always remain part of any Jewish story.
Which is why I wanted to post these thoughts on Tisha B’Av.Â Our enemies throughout the ages have persecuted usÂ in the most horrendous means imaginable.Â Our survival through thisÂ has been due to our unity andÂ refusal to relinquish or beliefs or bithright.Â Â We also haveÂ G-d’s promiseÂ andÂ convenant that allows us to be sure that Jewish identity willÂ never be destroyed byÂ other nations and foes.Â Yet at the same time we are our own worst enemy.Â Â Where is the safeguard againstÂ the Jewish people destroying themselves from within?Â Â What chanceÂ do we have when amongst ourselvesÂ the lack of unity of purpose andÂ rejection of tradition assimilates us andÂ reinterprets our missionÂ to theÂ point where itÂ is unrecognisable?
If we forget Jerusalem, we have no future.Â If we do not stand up toÂ assert Jewish soverignty over Har Habayit, then we abandon our cause.Â If we don’t have the ability to sacrifice our ownÂ false defintions of comfort and wellbeing for the sake of Jewish continuity, we will not merit an end to exile.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â