Each year, I find the Jewish holidays are a little different. It’s not that the holidays have changed, of course, but I have. This year, Tisha B’Av is speaking to me differently than it has in the past. (For a look at what I have thought about Tisha B’Av in the past, see here or here).
Tisha B’Av marks the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. It is a day of mourning and lamentation. It is a day that I often have trouble relating to, seeing as I don’t actually want to go back to a Judaism that is based around the Temple in Jerusalem. Yet this year, the sense of mourning destruction is resonating with me.
I find myself feeling like there are a lot of us mourning a vision of our world that seems to have been destroyed. There was an optimism to American life and worldview that seems to have gone, and many of us are beginning to wonder if it will return. There is a sadness present, both in those searching for work, and those who are employed but remain fearful of what the future will bring.
We are facing an unknown future, as did the Jews following the destruction of the Temple. They didn’t know what it meant to be Jewish without a Temple in which to make sacrifices. We aren’t sure what it means to be American without a limitless economic horizon stretched before us.
Yet Judaism transformed, and became something far more vibrant than it had been. And America also has the potential to be revitalized. It does, however, require a willingness to accept that the world is changed.