The Horror of Destruction

I’ll admit it. For a long time I really couldn’t  connect with Tisha B’av.

But then I became a parent.

From Eicha (Lamentations)

The horror of watching your child starve:

My eyes are spent with tears,
My heart is in tumult.
My being melts away
Over the ruin of my poor people,
As babes and sucklings languish in the squares of the city.
They keep asking their mothers,
“Where is bread and wine?”
As they languish like battle-wounded
In the squares of the town,
As their life runs out
In their mother’s bosoms.
(Lamentations 2:11-12)

A mother with nothing to give: 

Even jackals offer the breast
And suckle their young;
But my poor people has turned cruel,
Like Ostriches of the desert.
The tongue of the suckling cleaves
To its palate for thirst.
Little children  beg for bread;
None give them a morsel.
(Lamentations 4:3-4)

And the unthinkable:

With their own hands, tenderhearted woman
Have cooked their children;
Such became their fare,
In the disaster of my poor people.
(Lamentations 4:10)

Translations from the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh

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Shabbat Surfing: Tisha B’av

Jerusalem on Fire

The fast day of Tisha B’av, which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, begins this Monday night at sundown. One of the most moving rituals of this somber holiday is the public reading of the Book of Lamentations (Eicha), whose emotionally harrowing words and plaintive tune evoke the depth of the  loss.

  • Listen to Virtual Cantor chant Eicha in the original Hebrew.
  • Still brushing up on your biblical Hebrew? Me too. Go to Mechon Mamre for a good translation.
  • Eicha invisions Jerusalem as a mourning widow. Other texts even envision Israel an estranged or even beaten wife. What’s with that?
  • This is a notoriously hard holiday to explain to children. Check out this great crafts project and resist the urge to have them build a giant Lego Temple that you unceremoniously destroy.
  • It is a said that the Temple was destroyed because of senseless hatred. Read this story about the rivalry that brought the Temple down. Once you realize how mired in this dreck we still are, consider doing something with the J to help repair this broken world.

Shabbat Shalom!

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