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July 20, 2010: Messages for the Day

October 26, 2010

Tisha B’Av is a complex day. 
 
A time for mourning, with the very painful recitation of Eicha (Lamenations) and the reading of Kinnot (mournful elegies or poetic dirges) that paint near unbearable pictures of the tragedy of the destruction and other suffering that has befallen us.
 
A time for contemplation regarding our own behavior.  Today I attended a teaching about sins that are all the worse because we convince ourselves we have not sinned, but have done good.
 
A time for hope.  We are told, after all, that the Moshiach will be born on this day.  In the weeks following there will be haftorot (prophetic readings after the reading of the Torah) that provide consolation. 
 
Twice our Temples were destroyed, and for close to 2,000 years there was only a remnant on the land.  Now our people are returning, as it was prophesied that we would.  We are not nearly where we should be yet.  But we are returning.   There is a Jewish nation established here again, and this time it will be different.
 
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I do not intend to do a full posting now that examines a variety of political matters.  I wanted simply to take this opportunity to share one small item that struck me as a mark of hope:
 
The Arch of Titus was built at the edge of the Forum in Rome to celebrate the Roman conquest of Jerusalem by Titus.
 

 
It bears a number of “commemorative” friezes, the most famous of which is the one below.  It shows Jews taken captive and the carrying off of the Menorah from the Temple.
 

 
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Last night, the eve of Tisha B’Av, our Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi participated in a ceremony held before the arch, in Rome. He delivered a short address, and he said:
 
“We are here, at the Arch of Titus in Rome on the eve of Tisha B’av, the day the Jewish Temple was destroyed by Titus, and together with the Jewish Community we say: ‘The people of Israel live!’ (Am Yisrael Hai)”
 
Am Yisrael Hai.
 
Two-thousand years ago, facing down the mighty Roman Empire, how many among our people would have predicted such a turn of events?  We rest in the hand of the Almighty.
 
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