Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's bad enough that it's Tisha B'Av today:

The Rambam writes in the Mishneh Torah (Laws of Fasting 5:3) that five events happened on the ninth day of Av: the sin of the Spies (about which we read in this week's parsha), the destruction of the First Temple and the Second Temple, the capture of Betar and the killing of the proto-messianic Bar Kochba and all his people, and finally, the plowing of the Temple Mount by Turnus Rufus. In short, for the Rambam, Tisha B'Av is the betrayal of hope. It is the time when the three promises that God makes the Jewish people are all reversed: that He will give them the land of their forefathers, that He will dwell among them, and that He will bring a messiah to redeem them.

...and I really have no problems relating to the horrors and the pain of the destruction of both the first and the second Jerusalem Temples these days, considering where I am.

Every year, there's only one line in all the liturgy of Tisha B'Av that moves me to tears. "The hands of compassionate women boiled their own children, they were their food in the destruction of my people" says Lamentations (4:10), recalling the destruction of the First Temple, and all I can think is that today, it is not we who await God's redemption. It is God who awaits our redemption, God who waits for us to explain to ourselves, and to Him, how we can live with such a God, and what the rules of our relationship with Him might be.

For we Jews engaged in social justice there is a paradox that we cannot relieve. We believe that each person is a reflection of God, and that the infinite value of the individual is rooted in this divinity. But reality confronts us with the opposite proposition. Through most of history, life was brutish, cruel, and brief. In many places it so remains. And if God is the Unmoved Mover, the Eternal and Changeless One, then is it not because of Man that life, for many, has become longer, more peaceful and secure, more just, and more kind? What to make then of this God who bids us mourn the devastation that He wreaked upon us?

We have two entertainers gone in the past few months or so, one of 'em having passed on yesterday:

And now Isaac Hayes is dead.

Seems there is a little too much hurt to go around on this planet sometimes.

God sometimes you just don't come through...but, then again, we kind of know that. We've got to pick up and change for the better when we look back. And that's the truth.


saintseester said...

That's right, sometimes we have to pick up and do what has to be done. It isn't always easy or pleasant, but it is worth the struggle.

Funky-Rat said...

As the person who bought you (and possibly introduced you to) "The Theme From Shaft", I'm glad to see you remembered Isaac.

He will be missed.