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Friday, July 24, 2009

Reasons to Cry

The two psalms specially read on Tish'a Be'av and in Tikkun Rahel are Psalm 137 and Psalm 79.

When reading Psalm 137 (על נהרות בבל), we are to cry over Yerushalayim.
When reading Psalm 79 (באו גוים בנחלתך), we are to cry over the killing of Tzadikim.

This year, crying over these things does not require learning about events that took place thousands of years ago. In fact, there is much to cry about for events that are taking place right now.

President Obama and his administration want a construction freeze for Jews only in the eastern part of Yerushalayim. When thinking about what East Jerusalem is, I think of Har Hazeitim, Har Hatzofim, French Hill, the Old City, and of course, the Mekom Hamikdash, plus everything in between. This is our heritage, and no one - not even someone as powerful as President Obama - can tell us not to live there. (The same is true with Yesha, too, but let's stick with the Yerusalayim theme for now.) But even according to the president's own set of values, his policy on Yerushalayim is inconsistent with them. Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe said it best:
Think about that for a moment. Six months after Barack Obama became the first black man to move into the previously all-white residential facility at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, he is fighting to prevent integration in Jerusalem.
Psalm 137 states, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy." How some Jewish groups can support President Obama's Jerusalem policy is beyond me. This alone is truly a reason to cry.

As far as the killing of Tzadikim, I consider the news that occurred yesterday in NY/NJ to be a so-to-speak "killing" of Tzadikim. ממה נפשך (either way you look at it), as they say: whether they are proven innocent or not, their reputations have been killed. And our hearts have gone with them.

Psalm 79 says, "We are become a taunt to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us." I personally witnessed non-Jewish coworkers asking Jewish coworkers about the incident that occurred yesterday. That alone is a reason to cry.

The psalm continues: "How long, O LORD, wilt Thou be angry for ever? How long will Thy jealousy burn like fire?" Yes, we ask "How long?" How much longer to this Galut we are in? Hopefully, not long. The Gemara in Sanhedrin 98a says,

אמר רבי יוחנן אם ראית דור שצרות רבות באות עליו כנהר חכה לו

R' Yohanan says "If you see a generation that many troubles come upon it like a river, wait for him [Mashiah]"
May this be that generation - nay, may this be the moment.


At Fri Jul 31, 10:45:00 AM 2009, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Wow. Very powerful. Have a great Shabbat.


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