Today is not a regular Friday. It is Erev Tisha B’Av, and although we do not mourn on Shabbat (thus the fast is put off until Sunday), we are still carrying on in a more minor key than usual. Therefore this week’s Good News Friday edition will have a slightly different flavour.
British Chief Rabbi Efraim Mirvis brings us a thought-provoking video on the meaning of Tisha b’Av and the role we can play in transforming the mourning of the day into celebration:
You can read the full transcript at the Chief Rabbi’s website. Here are some excerpts:
If only we asked the right questions. Over this coming weekend there is one question that we are going to be hearing time and time again. It is “Eicha?” meaning “How?
‘Eicha?’ is all about sorrow. We are asking, how could this have happened? How could it be that we are facing such challenges that we are enduring such sorrow? Why is this happening to us?
But fascinatingly there is a nineteenth occasion in Tanach in which the same word appears, however, it is pronounced differently. It is also spelt ‘Alef’ ‘Yud’ ‘Kaf’ ‘Hei’, but this time it is “Ayeka.”
It features in Parashat Bereishit, right at the beginning of the Torah. After the original sin, when Hashem saw that Adam had fled, we read “Vayikra Hashem Elokim el Ha’Adam, Vayomer Lo Ayeka? – The Lord, God, called out to man and He said to him: Where are you?”
Hashem was saying to Adam, through this “Ayeka?” – This is not a time to hide away, it is also not a time to shy away from your responsibilities.
Our Prophets teach that Tisha b’Av is a “Mo’ed” meaning “A Festival,” – this indicates that in the course of time, the saddest of all of our days in the calendar will transform to become the happiest of days. We can contribute towards that happening if we transform “Eicha?” into “Ayeka?”
In times of difficulty, of crisis, tragedy and of challenge, instead of asking “How/why is this happening?” Instead we should ask, “What can I do about it?” “Where am I in this situation?” and “How can I contribute towards making this a better world?”
It all depends on asking the right question and behaving with responsibility.
These are very important thoughts to take with us through from Shabbat, which is supposed to be a day of mourning but isn’t, to Sunday, Tisha B’Av, which will be the day of mourning instead, but which we hope will turn into a day of joy.
And here is a beautiful video on the visceral link the Jewish people feel towards the Kotel – the last remnant of the Holy Temple where Jews are permitted to pray freely, since we are denied free access to the Har Habayit, the Temple Mount.
The video (English version here, I cannot embed it) tells the story of Jerusalem through its construction, destructions and reconstruction.
What better way to end this week’s post as we enter this strange Shabbat. May our mourning turn to joy and may this year’s fast be turned into a joyous festival as Jerusalem and the Temple are rebuilt.
Shabbat Shalom everyone.