What happens when the worlds seems to crumble? How are we able to carry on after total disaster? These are questions that Jews have had to ask far to many times in our history. In some ways it has transformed the tribe into permanent victims, but it has also made us the ultimate survivors. The month of Av is a celebration of survival, if we choose to embrace it this way. Av asks us the question: are you a victim or a survivor?
Rosh Chodesh Av falls in the three-week period of time traditionally known as bein ha-metzarim (בֵּין הַמְּצָרִים), which means “between the straits.” This is the time when tradition tells us that both the first and second Temples fell. The holiday of Tisha B’Av (9th of Av) is the focal point of the month’s devastation holding five different biblical-era and talmudic-era tragedies, along with several modern-era tragedies:
- G!d(dess) decreed the desert generation of the bible would not enter the holy land (Num 13-14)
- First Temple destroyed and first exile (586 BCE)
- Second Temple destroyed and seccond exile (70 CE)
- Roman destruction of Jerusalem (70 CE)
- Bar Kokhba revolt fails (135 CE)
- Jewish explution from England (1290 CE)
- Jewish expultion from Spain (1492 CE)
- World War I begins (1914 CE)
- Mass transportation of Jews from Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka death camp begins (1942 CE)
These are just the official tragedies of Tisha B’Av. There may be many more, both large and small, that have not entered the official cannon. Tisha B’Av leads us to believe that Av is all about mourning, but it is about the continuation of life. Much like the “Mourners’ Kaddish,” which never mentions death or mourning reminds us that life moves on even in the deepest moments of tragedy.
But how can we move from such overwhelming tragedy to new life?
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Adapted from a post originally written for Peeling a Pomegranate (2003-2013) by Kohenet Ketzirah haMa’agelet