Tisha B’av is not yom kippur. We are assured neither atonement nor redemption on Tisha B’av.

Tisha B’av is not the day that we beat our chests and promise to do better.

Tisha B’av is the day that we force ourselves to look into the heart of darkness, the darkness that we have created, the ways in which we are complicit in the evils of the world and we must be overwhelmed and distraught and paralyzed. There is no ray of hope on Tisha B’av.

Tisha B’av is the day of reckoning.

Tisha B’av is Isaiah standing in Jerusalem on the way to the Temple in sackcloth and ashes screaming that we are the heirs to Sodom and Gomorrah – that God is so sick of our worship service that the smell of the sweet incense nauseates her.

Tisha B’av is Isaiah standing outside the AME church in Charleston telling us, the nice right-minded liberal white community – God is sick of your weeping for dead black people. First wipe the blood off your hands. Your hands drip with the blood of slavery and slave profits.

Tisha B’av is Jeremiah standing at the checkpoint in Kalandia and outside the gates of Kiryat Arba telling all the the nice liberal Zionist American Jews – I am sick of your empathy and sympathy. Your handwringing and whining that there is no good solution. Your hands are dripping with blood. Jerusalem, the city in which once dwelt justice and righteousness is now the home to murderers.

Tisha B’av is not the day for the nostalgic fog of victimhood. We are the most powerful Jewish community that ever lived on the face of this planet and look what we have wrought.

Tisha B’av is Isaiah standing at the Women of the Wall Rosh Chodesh service screaming: you are protestinginequality while praying on the ruins of a Palestinian neighborhood destroyed by the Israeli army on the night they captured Jerusalem.

Tisha B’av does not have a happy ending.

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Aryeh Cohen, professor of Rabbinics at the American Jewish University, is a contributing editor to Tikkun Magazine.


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