By Chanita Teitz

 

I was born on Tisha B’Av, so in today’s column I’m combining thoughts of my birthday and Tisha B’Av.

Ever since I was a young girl and learned the meaning of Tisha B’Av, my birthday took on a new significance. Imagine being born on such an auspicious and profound day — a day when Klal Yisrael comes together in fasting, tefillos, and tears over what we lost about 3,000 years ago.

Some people say they don’t “feel” Tisha B’Av. I understand them. After all, it is such a long time ago and none of us witnessed the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. But I always say that we just need to use our imagination and picture in our minds what it must have looked like in the streets of Yerushalayim as people were starving to death and the Beis HaMikdash went up in flames.

If you have trouble picturing this, just go back 70 years and picture the Holocaust, the ghettos and the concentration camps. Go to the Holocaust museums and you will see all the pictures you need to “feel” our history of destruction, persecution, and murder. You can see fear in the eyes of people captured in the photos and almost smell death from the crematoria. Our collective memory goes back generations.

People ask how such evil could exist and why nobody stopped it. Evil exists and we see it today, too. Just a week ago, people were shot at random in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. Why? This isn’t the first time that a deranged person shot innocent people. If it happens in a shul, we call it antisemitism. If it happens in a school or in a parking lot or in an all-American store like Walmart, we call the perpetrator deranged. Was Hitler deranged or was he just evil?

What about ISIS and Al Qaeda? Deranged or evil? I think of Daniel Pearl being beheaded for being a Jew. I remember the Holtzbergs who were killed, among others, by terrorists in the Chabad house in Mumbai. I remember Pittsburgh and Poway. How can evil not move you and make you feel Tisha B’Av and all our bloody history?

And what about the new Democratic party that harbors a bunch of evil antisemites and can’t call them out by name and condemn their vitriol? Evil in the halls of Congress where respected statesmen used to speak eloquently about liberty, tolerance, and freedom.

A few years ago, I had an interesting thought. We have two months in the Jewish year at opposite ends of the calendar: Mar Cheshvan, the bitter month of Cheshvan, is at the beginning of the year,  and Menachem Av is at the end of the year. Life can be bitter at times. The destruction of the Beis HaMikdash was a national bitter blow to Klal Yisrael that happened in Menachem Av, which means “comforting Father.” For the following weeks after Tisha B’Av we will read haftarahs of comfort. We have lived through bitterness and we look forward to the ultimate comfort, the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash and coming of Mashiach.

Make your Tisha B’Av meaningful. There is so much online today to inspire you, and speakers to listen to. May this be the last Tishah B’Av of tears and fasting, and may the Beis HaMikdash be rebuilt speedily. Now that will be a birthday party!

Upcoming Events

Hashevaynu Tisha B’Av schedule.

  • Saturday night August 10: Fast begins at 8 p.m., Baruch HaMavdil and change shoes at 8:50 p.m., motzaei Shabbos Ma’ariv followed by Rav Avi Zakutinsky speaking at 9:05 p.m., and then Eichah and Kinnos.
  • Sunday morning August 11: Shacharis and Kinnos at 8:30 a.m., Project Inspire video for men and women at 1:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., Minchah at 7:30 p.m., Ma’ariv at 8:30 p.m., and fast ends at 8:45 p.m.

Queens Hatzolah Premier Men’s Event, Monday August 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the TWA Hotel JFK Terminal 5. Featuring Avraham Fried. Lavish grand barbecue, raffles, and wine-tasting. $180 per person; valet parking. Please RSVP at QueensHatzolah.org.

Free Weekly Summer Shiur for Women, two more Wednesdays, August 14 and 21 at 8:15 p.m. at Congregation Etz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills, 147-19 73rd Avenue. Rabbi Zvi Lew, popular limudei kodesh educator, will deliver his weekly summer shiur for women on various interesting topics in halachah and hashkafah. This free lecture series is open to all women. For more information, call 718-575-0594.

Chanita Teitz is a real-estate broker at Astor Brokerage in Kew Gardens Hills, serving the entire Queens vicinity. For all your real-estate needs, call her at 718-263-4500 or e-mail chanita@astorbrokerage.com.

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