This summer Tisha B'Av takes on new meaning. This day, falling on Saturday night and Sunday, recalls the destruction of the Temple, Jerusalem and Jewish sovereignty in both 586 BCE and 70 CE. Interestingly, our sages do not credit the imperial powers of Babylonia and Rome with the destructions. They teach that these national losses were due to the way we conducted our personal lives and collective national business. They point to "causeless hatred", the failure to take care of the poor and needy members of the society, the polarization of social groupings, immoral business practices, and disrespect for scholars, weak leadership and diplomatic failings.
Does any of this sound familiar? Are we in danger of bringing about the destruction of our democracy and the institutions that were created to serve the people? The venomous rhetoric from the right and left is polarizing this nation to a degree we may have not have known since, perhaps, the Civil War. We have a president who has spoken and behaved in a treasonous way. How do we respond?
National forums must be created by responsible citizens to allow the "sides" to come together to civilly speak with each other, addressing these concerns and the differences that we have. We need to get out of our "bubbles". Support for campaigns of democratic leadership need to be increased.
This week people are gathering in Lafayette Park across from the White House in a 24/7 Vigil until Trump resigns. Sunday morning, on Tisha B'Av, members of Bend the Arc, Am Kolel and T'ruah will be gathering at 9 am at Lafayette Park to chant from Lamentations and pray for the restoration and responsibility of moral and civic leadership.
This Shabbat morning we begin reading again from the Book of Deuteronomy, Dvarim. Dvarim is largely a review of the teachings, mitzvot, laws and statutes of the previous Books. Dvarim reminds us of our responsibilities to others and of ways to create a more just and compassionate society. Consider sending passages from Deuteronomy to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
If you have time to be part of a new Am Kolel Response Team to address the dangers we are facing, please write me at RabbiDavid@Am-Kolel.org.
You may wish to consider fasting for part of the day on Sunday as a way of being in solidarity with all those who are on the front lines addressing these dangers. Bivracha, Reb David