first temple artifacts 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy of the Bible Lands Museum)
The period that follows Tisha Be’av is an active time for many. Vacations and
trips temporarily delayed are now pursued vigorously. Purchases also delayed
because of the three weeks, the nine days and Tisha Be’av itself are now
completed and life returns to a sense of normalcy. However, there is also the
beginning of an upbeat mood, because glimpsed now over our calendar’s horizon is
the arrival of the new year and its attendant holidays of solemnity and
I have always felt that the wonder of Tisha Be’av is that the Jewish
people somehow continued after its destructive occurrences. The rabbis taught
the people to believe that the destruction of the Temples and even the exile was
not the final chapter in the story. They created a post-Tisha Be’av world that,
while still looking backward and never forgetting what had occurred, basically
looked forward to create the conditions of Jewish survival, growth and
This remarkable achievement is unique in human history and is
testimony to the covenant of eternity that controls our destiny and shapes our
lives. The Mishna and the Talmud, the basic books of Judaism and Jewish life,
were created after the events of Tisha Be’av. The customs and folkways that have
bound Jews together and to their tradition were created and strengthened after
the destruction of the Temples. Resilience became the watchword of Jewish
In 1263, Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman (Ramban) argued against the Church
in front of King James of Aragon that Jewish survival over the past millennia
was sufficient proof of the uniqueness of the Jewish people and of its covenant
with the creator. “One sheep surrounded by 70 wolves!” he shouted to his
adversaries who sought to deny the right of Jewish existence and the role of
Judaism in world society. Almost 800 years later the same statement can and
should be made with even greater emphasis. It is simply Jewish survival and
resilience that puts the lie to the delegitimatization campaign that is
currently being viciously conducted against us.
ACCORDING TO the script
of natural history, we should no longer be here, there should be no great
concentrations of Torah students and observant Jews present and there certainly
cannot be a thriving Jewish state in its ancient homeland. I think that much of
the bitterness and frustration that fuels its hatred, bias and bigotry against
Jews and especially the State of Israel is that there apparently is no real
“final solution” to the “Jewish problem.”
Some truly believes that if
there were no Israel and no strong Jewish community, universal utopia will have
arrived. And they therefore are angry with us for not accommodating this wish,
which they believe would be so beneficial for the general good of humankind. It
is the resilience of the Jew more than anything else that so frustrates our
antagonists and has done so for so many centuries.
There are elements
within the Jewish people that seemingly are willing to accommodate the wishes of
our enemies, all in the name of piein- the-sky humanistic, utopian ideals that
never have any true relation to facts on the ground or the reality of life.
Their Jewish resilience has deserted them, replaced by a vague hope for
universalism and a conviction that the lamb can truly lie down with the lion and
not become lamb chops. This misplaced “goodness” and peace mongering at all
costs has exacted a heavy toll of lives and stress in the Jewish and general
world over the past many decades.
The Jewish people, in the main, has
rebuilt itself after the indescribable tragedies and disasters of World War II.
A Jewish state exists, the Soviet Union disappeared and more than a million
Soviet Jews have reattached themselves in one degree or another to their people
and heritage. There simply has never occurred such a string of events to
a people after such a tragedy as was the Holocaust.
The world knows about
Tisha Be’av but is ill acquainted with after Tisha Be’av. Jews see the
year and better times on the horizon. It is not the memorials, important
as they are, that will sustain our existence. It is the continued
spiritual growth of our nation and its institutions of learning,
compassion that will once again prove our resilience to still be present
us.The writer is a rabbi, author,
essayist and popular historian.