Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Should We Still Be Reading the Book of Lamentations on the 9th of Av?

Let me say this as simply and concisely as possible: As long as the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple is not rebuilt, Jerusalem cannot be considered rebuilt, and the reciting of Eichah (The Book of Lamentations) and kinot is still quite relevant. You do not have to be a man of great erudition to know this.

Therefore I was quite surprised to see this piece from Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo. After begging his forgiveness I must disagree with what he wrote:

But in the here and now, where I live, Yerushalayim is a city of splendor, full of life, and contradicting everything I read in Eichah.

How can I, in good conscience, utter or even listen to words claiming that I live in a desolate city, when in fact I look out of my window and am amazed to see Yerushalayim rebuilt so splendidly, as if mocking the Scroll of Eichah?

There is something totally wrong about this. Isn’t it a slap in the face to the Holy One blessed be He, Who granted our generation such a magnificent, colorful, and lively city, with its spectacular views, parks full of beautiful flowers, impressive museums, and luxury hotels, to name just a few attractions?

And then we publicly read aloud that all this is not true, as if denying this divine blessing bestowed upon us after thousands of years of disaster and exile?

Rabbi Cardozo is correct in that we have been blessed that we have a "lively city", with "spectacular views, parks full of beautiful flowers", etc. We should certainly be grateful for this constantly. Being an ingrate is a terrible thing. Where I learned, we recited Hallel on Israeli Independence Day and Jerusalem Day in order to thank God for the wonders he has wrought for us.

However, all this does not diminish the deep pain and mourning that dwells in the heart of the Jew who longs for the Temple. In some ways it even deepens the sense of loss. “The Temple Mount is in our hands”, however, in spite of this, two legged "foxes walk upon it" (Lamentations 5:18). We are so close, yet so far away.

Reciting Eichah on the 9th of Av is in no way a "slap in the face to the Holy One blessed be He", as Rabbi Cardozo suggests. Rather it is the genuine expression of mourning, still relevant today perhaps more than ever, of the loss of our Temple, and the ability to fulfill God's Will that was lost along with it. The return to Zion and the establishment of Jewish sovereignty over part of our holy land is wonderful indeed, but we are still far from where we really want to be.

May we merit to see the return of the Davidic dynasty and the building of the Holy Temple speedily in our days!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...