Friday, July 27, 2012

Tisha B'Av Letter 5772

Every year, I send a message to my congregation before Tisha B'Av. Here is the letter I composed and sent before Tisha B'Av 5772/2012.

Dear Members and Friends,

This Saturday night marks the beginning of the darkest and saddest day on the Jewish calendar, the fast of Tisha B’Av. Tisha B’Av commemorates a host of tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout the course of their history, including the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. In addition to being a day of solemn mourning and deep reflection, Tisha B’Av is the most serious and stringent fast day of the year, second only to Yom Kippur.

Tragically, Tisha B’Av is often neglected or overlooked by contemporary Jews. Many are unaware of its existence. Those who are familiar with Tisha B’Av may feel alienated from its message of sadness and gloom. As a result, despite the supreme importance of the day, it is not as widely acknowledged or observed in the Diaspora as it should be.

Tisha B’Av is a reminder to all of us that we live in a dark and unjust world, a world marred by profound ignorance, immorality, materialism, poverty, racism, misogyny, tyranny, and selfishness, and that it is our responsibility as the Chosen People to correct this sorry state of affairs.

The purpose of our focus on a wide array of painful and unspeakable tragedies is not to depress, debilitate or demoralize us but to awaken within us a sincere desire to avoid such calamities in the future. This means realizing that the terrible occurrences of the past were not accidental; rather, they were the inevitable and inescapable consequences of the corruption of the society in which we live.

The mourning of Tisha B’Av is designed to create a powerful sense of unity among all members of the Jewish people, both in terms of our shared historical fate and in terms of our shared national destiny, so that, together, we can strive for a genuinely better tomorrow.

We understand that the process of redeeming our broken society cannot begin until we face the stark, harsh and painful realities that surround us. We know that the joyous rebuilding of Jewish community and the achievement of the Prophetic ideals of peace on earth and universal brotherhood will be inspired and fueled by the feelings of sadness and despair we experience on Tisha B’Av.

The message of Tisha B’Av is meant to resonate and should resonate with all those who are sensitive to the plight of mankind and are truly concerned about the injustices and abuses - physical, moral and intellectual - that are perpetrated daily across the globe.

When we, as a people, cannot tolerate this state of affairs any longer; when we are finally willing to set aside all of our trivial concerns and petty disagreements for the sake of a greater good; when the lessons of Tisha B’Av finally penetrate our hearts and we are fully prepared to do whatever it takes to transform a disappointing and diseased world into the inspiring and idyllic one of which we have dreamed for centuries - then, and only then, will the light of true redemption burst forth in all its glory.

Tisha B’Av begins on Shabbat evening at 8:22PM. Please join us at Magen David Sephardic Congregation for our deeply moving services Saturday Night at 9:30PM, Sunday morning at 8:30AM and Sunday evening at 7:45PM.

At 4:30PM on Sunday, we will be screening three fascinating and educational films that highlight the experiences of Sephardic Jews in exile. I hope you will attend the screening and thereby enrich your experience of this incredibly important day.

Shabbat Shalom and Best Regards,

Rabbi Joshua Maroof


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Have an easy and meaningful fast.

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