Thursday, August 03, 2006

Despair without Hope

Tisha B'Av has become one of the most meaningful days in the Jewish cycle for me, but only after much struggle and thought. Coming from a tradition of optimists I fought with this day as it commemorates all that is vile and base in the world. I have, over time, learned to accept the day and cherish it, though it runs completely against my nature. As this is a rant, I am too tired to actually put together sources for everything that might follow, they do, however, exist.

There is a midrash that in every generation that the Beit Hamikdash (Jewish Temple in Jerusalem) is not rebuilt, it is as if it has been destroyed. While this can come across as banal, it cannot be interpreted simply. Is this somehow a compulsion to rebuild the temple? Does anyone actually believe that were we to place brick on top of brick in successive fashion that we would somehow complete this process or rebuilding the temple? The loss of the temple is about inevitability and corruption. We cannot rebuild so we are forces to gaze upon the destructive fires which razed that building some 2500 years ago, and again 600 years later.

The message of Neviim (prophets) is along these same lines. It is true that the sins of the people caused the destruction, but politically the state was also doomed. Yoshiahu could not have allied with Egypt, lest Babaloyia beset Judah with hostilities, and thus he was forced to fight, and die in Meggido. No state can exist indefinitely without succumbing to natural pressures. The world in which the first and second temple existed, as in the world today, was unstable and enthropic and ultimately leads to chaos.

Has there ever been a generation worthy of sanctity, one which has not been guilty, metaphysically causing the destruction? Only 40 days after the revelation at Sinai the Jews turned to false gods and the destruction in Europe was perpetrated against the holiest and greatest of our nation. There seems to be little correlation between the works of man, and the rewards from heaven.

Tisha B'Av is an acknowledgement of the corruption of the world, without any comfort of hope (though you may find particular exceptions). Unlike Yom Kippur, there is no theme of repentance or cheshbon nefesh on this day. We concentrate on our suffering without any possibility of redemption. There is only desolation. Chazal took one day on the calendar to focus on the depravity which history delivers, bounding this focus by 25 hours. Were we to stop drinking in light of these sickening truths (as the Gemara suggests) these enthropic forces would indeed prove immediately victorious.

Hashiveinu eilecha venashuva, chadesh yameinu kekedem. Only when we can return to kedem (closely associated with Eden in Jewish mythology) will we be able to return to a time of stability.


jacob said...

600 years later??? Please tell me that was a typo.

Zev said...

??? First B"H was destroyed in 586 BCE. 586+70=656 years. How is that so far off?

jacob said...

It isnt far off if you assume that the first B"H was destroyed in 586. The problem is that date doesnt correspond with the gemara's timeline. The gemara says that the the first BH stood for 410 years and the second for 420 years with 70 years between them. (Those numbers might be off)

The biggest problem with the 586 date is not the "conflict" with the gemara's timeline but with the fact that it creates a 150 year gap in the mesorah. BTW, it was during this gap that the redactor put the torah together...

Josh said...

Sorry for coming late to the party. I responded to your post on my blog.