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A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 8/9/19

Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, is a solemn date in Jewish history. On this day the 1st Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. On the very same date in 70 CE, the 2nd Temple was set on fire by the Romans.

Given these catastrophes, our sages designated 9 Av as a day of fasting and mourning. In this year, since Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbat, traditional Jews will mark Sunday as a solemn day of remembrance.

Liberal Jews do not observe Tisha B’Av in the same manner. We do not feel the impact of 9 Av as keenly in part because the ancient Temple in Jerusalem is less central to our theology. We do not pray for its restoration or for a resumption of animal sacrifices.

However, there is a lesson for us to learn from Tisha B’Av. Our sages declare that the 2nd Temple was destroyed not due to the actions of Imperial Rome, but because the Jewish people turned on one another. Because of Sinat Chinam, baseless hatred, we abandoned our unity, weakened ourselves, and were ripe for destruction.

Let us keep this lesson foremost in our minds for Tisha B’Av. Despite differences in theology and practice, let us uphold the fundamental unity of the Jewish people. Let us remember our bonds of faith uniting Jews throughout the world and our shared responsibility for our mutual well-being.

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