Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tisha B'Av

Right now, the Jewish world is in a period of time called the Three Weeks of Calamity (or Shalosh Shabbatot d'Puranuta), which is the span of time between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av. On the Seventeenth of Tammuz, a number of horrible events happened to the Jewish people, but most notable the walls of Jerusalem were breached in 586 leading up to the Ninth of Av which sees the Temple destroyed. All of the events that fall on these dates are ones that shake up the Jewish people, causing feelings of grief, terror and loss of focus.

And watching the news for the past two weeks has given most of the Jewish people around the world those same feelings, especially as we watch world opinion turn on Israel.

Yesterday was a special Shabbat called Shabbat Hazon, which is the final Shabbat before Tisha B'Av. On that Shabbat we read the first prophecy of the prophet Isaiah ben Amotz. I have read this before in synagogue for the past several years. Since this portion of the prophets is read with two different cantillation systems, I am usually worried about the transitions from one to the next and back.

This Shabbat Hazon was completely different. I began just fine, but when I came to the phrase "The cities are burning with fire" I began weeping and sobbing. I had never before lived though a Three Weeks where the emotions of the world I lived in were in line with the emotions in the synagogue ritual. All of my stress, worry and anxiety about what is happening in Israel came gushing out. It was almost impossible to continue, my voice kept breaking.

I just hope that the end result of what happened in Isaiah's day does not come to pass in ours.


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