Parasha Devarim

With full respect to our Torah reading this week, Parshat Devarim, I would like to touch on Tisha B'Av and its liturgy.  We will be commemorating Tisha B'Av this Monday night and Tuesday morning.  It is said "with the advent of the month of Av we diminish our joy."   The Kinot [i] ritual we will be doingTuesday morning first brings out the aspects of our triumphant Exodus: the redemption followed by the plagues, the splitting of the sea, giving of the Torah, the manna, the clouds, the traveling well, and so on.

Then, as if toying with our emotions, we see the rioting and ransacking, the fire and smoke of devastation, tears from families being torn apart, famine and starvation, captivity and servitude, war, sickness, death, and mourning the destruction of the Temple.   We are taken from the highest heights to the lowest of the low.

The concept is neither original, nor mine, but we can take some consolation from the fact in nearly two thousand years after the destruction of Jerusalem and our exile, the Jewish people are still standing, and despite Hamas' efforts, still standing tall.   We have been oppressed all over the world, and time after time have left our positive stamp on humankind.  A small group of us are even flourishing here in San Antonio (a little north of the Alamo) atAgudas Achim for the past 125 years.

Having spent many, many summers at Camp Ramah I recall hearing the story of the "fox" more than once, and it is only now as an adult that my inner soul feels its true meaning.  Rabbi Akiva and three other sages were walking in Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple.  As they approached the site of the Temple Mount, a fox came scurrying out from the ruins of the Temple.  Mindful of the prophesy, "On desolate Mount Zion, foxes will roam," (Eicha 5:18), the sages began to cry and mourn the destruction of our Holy Temple.  Rabbi Akiva only laughed.

"Why," they questioned?  He reminded them the entire prophesy had two parts-the first half dealt with destruction and the second with redemption.  If the first part came true exactly as foretold, the rest must also be true, and our redemption is at hand.  The Talmud(Makot 24b) tells us the sages replied, "Akiva you have comforted us; Akiva you have comforted us."

As we continue to watch the news with our hearts and souls tied to Israel, I invite you to join us for services on Monday night at 8 PM and Tuesday morning at 7:30 AM as we stand in solidarity with our people, remembering the tragedies of our past with fervent hope for a lasting peace.  Our sages teach in Isaiah 66:10, "Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her."  The Talmud (Taanit 30b) tells us that "Whoever mourns properly for Jerusalem will be rewarded by experiencing its rejoicing."

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham

Join us for Tisha B'Av services Monday night at 8 PM and Tuesdaymorning at 7:30 AM.


[i] Kinot are dirges (sad poems) traditionally recited on Tisha B'Av . The Kinnotare recited on the night of Tisha B'Av after reciting Eicha, The Book of Lamentations, which was also called "Kinnot" in the Talmudic era before it assumed its more familiar name of "Eicha."