Monday, July 19, 2010

Tisha B'Av in Ir David

(Photo by: J Buzelan
Me in Ir David on 9 Av 5770)
A short time ago, I returned from Ir David in Yerushalayim. I went there with some of my neighbors for Maariv and the reading of Eicha, as I have done for many years on the night of Tisha B'av. But tonight, this year, was very different!

Ir David, the city which David HaMelech built and where the Jews lived in the time that the Bet HaMikdash stood...I now sat there listening to the words of the prophet Yirmiyahu: Megillat Eicha. So many thoughts went through my head as I sat on a low wooden bench. On the one hand, I was sitting in the very place where David HaMelech had his palace and Jews thrived under the reign of his son, Shlomo. How exciting it must have been to be alive at that time and witness the opening of the Bet thrilling and how engaging to be a witness to Jewish History in the making.
And at the same time, I thought about the horrible feelings and terrible tragedy of the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash. The death, enslavement and famine alone were terrible. But even the anxiety that led up to that terrible day of 9 Av (TWICE!) had to have been excruciatingly difficult.
And I was reminded of that very same set of polar-opposite-feelings during the reading of Eicha for another reason: Almost as if on cue, about one minute after we began, the Moslem muezzin (call to prayer) sounded very loudly and almost drowned out the one reading Eicha. A minute later, I heard the sounds of helicopter blades hovering above our heads as the police and IDF had a very strong show of presence on this evening that brought tens of thousands of Jews to one area.
And again, I saw that duality...the joy of having the protection of our own Jewish military and police and at the same time hearing the wail of the muezzin cut through me like a knife. From one extreme to another...just like what I was thinking about from ancient times.

When we finished, we walked over to the Kotel plaza. Tens of thousands of people everywhere you looked! People telling the story of the destruction of the bet HaMikdash...people saying tehillim...people merely standing around talking...people sitting on the ground in silent contemplation. But, while the moment was a sad moment, considering WHY everyone was there, it was also a moment of a feeling of triumph. Because even though we STILL do not have the Mashiach, we have OUR country and we have OUR government. We are not under Moslem rule, nor Turkish rule, nor a British Mandate, etc is OUR's. And that thought gave me a true sense of pride...on the darkest day of the Jewish year...a ray of light in all of this darkness.