Today we commemorate Tisha B’Av, the most mournful day of the Jewish calendar. Traditionally, this is the day when the First Temple of Jerusalem, build by Solomon, was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and of the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 AD. As part of Tisha B’Av, we read the Book of Lamentations, where the Prophet Jeremiah puts into words the desolation and sheer hopelessness that has befallen Jerusalem, and the misery of its people. This is supposedly God’s punishment for the sins of the nation, and for the false prophets who denied anything was wrong in the nation.
In the midst of this desolation and despair, is there still reason for hope that their misery will end? Any situation, bad or good, does not last forever. Jeremiah writes about how God will comfort those who return to God and from their sins. The book concludes, “Return us unto you and and we shall return. renew our days as of old.”
On a more physical level, what can we, as individuals and as a society, do to prevent such a catastrophe from happening? Who are the real “prophets,” spiritual and secular, we should listen to for the truth? And is it “too late” to change direction from going over the abyss?
A great place to read about Tisha B’Av, and the other Jewish Holy Days is the great book by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Seasons Of Our Joy: A Modern Guide to the Jewish Holidays. For an overview of Lamentations, please look up the Jewish website Aish, http://www.aish.com/h/9av/oal/48961756.html?s=mpw