Monday, July 16, 2007

The Nine Days...

DovBear had an interesting re-post today about the Nine Days. He is trying to figure you why he doesn't like the Nine Days and comes to this conclusion:

In my humble opinion, this strange gloom that overtakes me year after year is simply one of the unhappy by-products of my all-too-succesful Jewish education.

I was taught to be sad during the nine days, and so I am.
For me, personally, aside from the time of year, which does greatly upset me, more and more each year, I have another reason why I don't like the Nine Days, one DovBear doesn't mention, but one that might also explain his dislike, and it certainly explains mine.

The Nine Days make me sad, yes. But they also make me angry at the Jewish Nation. That is angrier than usual...It royally pisses me off that it's been nearly two thousand years since this golus started, and there seems to be no end in sight. I sit in shul on Shabbos Chazon every year, listen to the Haftara, and cry my eyes out.

We, myself included, are a nation that simply can't get along with itself. "Kol Yisrael Chayavim - everyone is wrong in everyone else's eyes." And as a result, here we are. Still in golus, still filled with hate for one another, still begging Hashem for a Geula we simply do not deserve.

I've said on other threads before, I don't hate the RWNJs (Right Wing Nut Jobs). I don't like them, but I do love them. They are Jews, and I am commanded to love them. And I do. My goal in this space has never changed. It was never to demonize the RWNJs (even when it sounds like I am). It was always to show there are other ways to Avodas Hashem. My core thesis, that these people simply aren't frum, isn't because they don't learn and don't follow mitzvos. It's because they don't accept anyone else who does, but not on the same derech as them.

Says the Navi:
Why do I need your numerous sacrifices, says Hashem...When you appear before me, who sought this from your hands? ...You shall not continue to bring me worthless appointed festival, My sould hates; they have become a burden upon Me; I am weary of bearing [them].
Knock off the BS, says God. That's all he's saying here. Just knock it off. I don't want chumras, I don't want korbanos. I want you simply be what a Jew is supposed to be and knock off all the hatred.
Learn to do good, seek justice, strengthen the victim, do justice for the orphan, take of the cause of the widow...
The posuk doesn't say "learn well." It says "learn to do good." there's a big difference here.

So, where is the compassion between Jews?! Where is the love? I don't know. Oh, sure, some will claim, "well, look at all the certain communities do." Whoopee. Hooray. What, you want to be praised on things you are already supposed to do? You want Geula for that?! If it were that easy, the geula would have happened centuries ago. No, it's the going above and beyond, WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND what we are supposed to do that will bring the geula.

And this is what the posuk says. I would go out on a limb here and say the ArtScroll translation of "Limdu Heiteiv - learn to do good" is wrong. I would say the correct translation LEARN - emphasis on the word LEARN - to do BETTER - Heiteiv can also mean improve - Learn to Improve! Don't just learn to do good. That's easy. LEARN TO DO BETTER THAN GOOD, LEARN TO KEEP IMPROVING - that's where the challenge exists. It's easy to do good. It's not so easy to keep improving on it.

The Three Weeks, and especially the last Nine Days, and even more especially, Tish'a B'Av itself, are not just a national Jewish Day of Mourning. They are much, much more than that. It's up to us, not God, to bring about the Geula. He's sitting up there, waiting for us.

The very next Haftara, Nachamu, gives us a key: "her iniquity has been conciliated, for she [Jerusalem, and by association, the Jewish People] has received from Hashem twice [the punishment] for all her sins." The hint here: It's not just twice the punishment; it's twice the effort on OUR PART, as the Jewish Nation, that will bring the Geula. God destroyed the Bais Hamikdash, we all know, because of Sinas Chinam. The Geula isn't going to take place because we no longer hate each other. That's just one step. But we have to double that effort: "Kiflayim bechol chatoseha - double for her sins" says the Navi - it's not enough to just take that one step forward and stop hating, as we took that one step backward and started hating.

We all need to put in DOUBLE the effort, just as we received double the punishment - we need to feel Ahavas Chinam for each other as well. This is the logical procession to to a full Geula - doubling the correct behavior to right the wrong we have been doing for over two thousand years. Not just stepping away from Sinas Chinam, but stepping into Ahavas Chinam - we need to distance ourselves from Sinas Chinam so the chance of falling back into that behavior is minimized, perhaps even eliminated, by creating a schism between the positive and the negative behavior.

This is why the Bais Hamikdash will only be rebuilt when we have Ahavas Chinam for one another - because Ahavas Chinam is the double - the two step solution..."Kiflayim bechol Chatoseha..."

So, I don't know, DB, but maybe this is reason for your dislike as well. Maybe it's not just the standard "it's a sad time of year and you're not allowed to be happy" reason we all get in school.


rebelwithacause said...

I've said on other threads before, I don't hate the RWNJs (Right Wing Nut Jobs). I don't like them, but I do love them. They are Jews, and I am commanded to love them.

I don't hate them, but I don't love them either. They are indifferent to me cause they don't care about other Jews. One BT (a haredi guy) in my town was seriously ill and only two people came to see him in the hospital during his stay for over six months and wish him refuah shelemah, and that people being me and our community rabbi (also haredi) . I am supposed to love and care for people who don't love and care for other Jews?

Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People said...

Ah! There's the rub! That's what Ahavas Chinam is about. That is it's challenge!

The problem is reconciling Ahavas Chinam with the way many people act (Chareidi and otherwise). And the way I do it, the only way I feel I can do it, is to differentiate between love and like. I don't like them. I don't like what they do. But as a Jew, I am commanded to love them.

Do I like Ed? No. I can't stand him! But I do love him...

And that's why the Geula has been so long in coming. It's easy to hate someone with a reason; it's not as easy to let go that reason and love the person anyway, even if the person is, and you'll pardon my language, a putz.

Ahavas Chinam is probably the one, hardest thing to feel. It means letting go all animosity, no matter what the other person does, and loving that person as a Jew anyway.

But still, it doesn't mean you have to like him...:)

smoo said...

I guess there is an alternative perspective to allay some of your anguish regarding past culpability and present intransience. The world is what we make of it. When the Jews chose rebellion instead of tribute, they did so based on their perception of their best interests at the time without the hindsight available to us now. Their fate was sealed by those actions not some divine justice meted out because of sin'at chinum. So too our 'redemption' will not be some miraculous event that will transform us if we could just get it together and be fine upstanding people. A better world, a better society, and a better Israel will come through much hard work to alter human nature with respect to conflict, in-group/out-group thinking, and desire for power and economic advantage. We shouldn't blame the many generation before us for our remaining in galut, they were doing their best balancing the needs of the present with needs of the future as well as those of the individual and that of the group. I agree with the ideals you propose but I see them in the context of human aspiration for a Utopian society rather than in the backdrop of failure of the past and present, were we are always looking for the future that seems just out of reach. There is no magical nirvana waiting for us. Instead, the past is our teacher and the mesorah our guide in our path towards tikkun olam. Live in the here and now with a vision for the future. By doing that we will have redeemed ourselves.