July 26th to 27th 2023
9 of Av 5783
Day of Affliction and Inspiration
“On the 9th of Av it was dictated that our ancestors not enter the land of Israel, the first and second Beit HaMikdash were destroyed, Betar was captured and destroyed.”
Among the liturgical readings of the 9th of Av, we find medieval writings that mention different tragedies, persecutions and murders that the Jews suffered in different times and places. Calamities are supposed to have occurred on this disastrous day, though they dubiously coincided. They were accommodated in the calendar to gather all the evil into a single day. “On the 9th of Av, in different years, the Jews of England, France, Spain and Austria were expelled, the First World War began, the Jews were herded into the ghettos and the Warsaw ghetto was eliminated.” We don’t want to live the whole year in anguish and grief, so we concentrate the tribulations on a single day.
“They (the sages) said, on the day when the enemies entered the city and destroyed the Temple, there was a Jew outside Jerusalem plowing, and he saw that the cow he was plowing with had fallen to the ground… He beat her to the ground, that he heard a voice that said to him: What’s the matter with the cow? Leave her, she cries out for destruction and because today the Temple is burning. The man heard it and immediately tore his clothes, tore his hair and screamed, threw ashes on his head and cried… After two or three hours, the cow got up, danced and rejoiced… He heard a voice that said to him: load and plow because at this moment Moshiach was born. The man listened, washed his face, got up and went home happy…”
From the same suffering, redemption is born. This date of destruction, while helping us to sustain the historical memory of suffering, calls us to faith and active hope in the construction of a better world, the messianic time. “Do not think that in the days of Moshiach nature will change, or that there will be any new behavior in creation, but rather that the world will continue as usual.” As Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai, the father of Rabbinic Judaism, who lived at the time of the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, taught: “If you have a seedling in your hand, and someone tells you that Moshiach has come, stay and finish planting, and then go greet him.” The twelfth of Maimonides’ thirteen Principles of Faith says: “I believe with absolute firmness in the coming of the Moshiach, and even if it takes time, I trust in the same way every day that he will come.” Professor Ishaiahu Leibovich emphasizes the “will come”, conjugated in the future. The messianic is conjugated in the future. He taught “that he will come, every Moshiach that comes, (in the present tense) is a false Moshiach.”
In the classical reform, there were those who thought that the 9th of Av should be a holiday, a symbol of departure from the place of the “Kingdom of the priests and the holy people”, and whose function would be to disseminate the prophetic message to humanity. This perspective was later dropped. Gradually recovering with the new state, the place of historical Israel combining it with the Jewish identity.
On the 9th of Av there are those who fast all day, those who fast for half a day, those who read Lamentations, those who dedicate themselves to good deeds. In addition to practices and rituals, the symbology and deep meaning of working on this day can be affliction and inspiration. Remember the destruction and encourage us to build. If the second Beit HaMikdash was destroyed by hatred beyond reason, and on the same day Moshiach was born, this date is a time dedicated to motivation for love beyond reason. It encourages us to unite humanity as a family “without hunger, without wars, without envy, or competition”. A house, the world, where we can live in harmony like “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. The calf, the young lion and the domestic animal will walk together, and a child will lead them”, humanity in all its diversity.
Rav Damian Karo
 Inspired by BaZman, Rabbi Dalia Marx
 Mishnah Ta’anit 4:6
 Siddur Ha-Avodah Shebalev (MARAM), 1982 page 225
 Midrash Zuta, Megillat Echa
 Maimonides Hilchot Melachim 12:1
 Avot d’Rabbi Natan, Nusach B, Chapter 31
 Exodus 19:6
 Talmud Bavli Yoma 9b
 Maimonides Hilchot Melachim 12:5
 Isaiah 11:6