Monday, July 15, 2013
We approach Tisha B'Av. Admittedly, it is one of the holidays to which I never connected emotionally. While there is certainly a need to set aside time to acknowledge misfortune, it is much harder to buy into the concept of divine retribution for my own misconduct or that of the community. When loonies of the ideological right suggest that hurricanes or AIDS are payback for social misconduct of one form or another, I do not take them seriously. And while there is a reason to discourage Avodah Zarah and at least be selective with Sinat Chinam, both have their constructive elements. Yes, the Temple was destroyed but how sincere anyone is about wanting it back the way it was stretches credibility. Slicing through the neck of a sheep to bring Kavod to HaShem who already has Kavod in abundance makes me wonder about what we really aspire to. We have in place in Jerusalem today this bearded God Squad creating mayhem and inhibiting religious fulfillment of a sizable part of the Jewish population that they regard contemptuously until the Tzedakah box needs a refill. It seems to me that it might be better not to have Achdoos than to have the wrong kind of unity, particularly an irreversible one. So mourn for destruction? Maybe, but not for very long. I think it better to take the view that no time is better than right now because we can address our many diversities right now. Rabbi Akiva, seeing foxes emerge from the ruins of the Second Temple, concluded that they hit bottom as a prerequisite for redemption. But he believed it would come passively, and maybe it will. But it won't come between tonight's Tisha B'Av and next year's. In that interval, while perhaps biding our time until we are once more subjugated internally by frummies, we can express a certain amount of Sinat Chinam toward those who restrain our minds and our actions in the name of the illusion of unity.