Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Day that God Mourned

Today in synagogues around the world, it was Shabbat Hazon, the Sabbath of Vision. We read Isaiah's vision of the coming destruction and rebuilding of a holy city. This haftarah always comes just before Tisha B'Av, and my fellow congregant at Temple B'nai Brith, Caroline Chauncey, explained how the vision and the holiday are related.

On Tisha B'Av, beginning this Monday night, Jews will read the book of Lamentations and mourn  the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. I have been explaining in previous posts how this was not merely a cultural catastrophe or a political defeat.  It was the shattering of a cosmic context in which the Jewish purpose-to repair and perfect the world-would be achievable.

Caroline noticed that the keyword "Eichah" which begins Lamentations and is the book's Hebrew name, also occurs in today's haftarah. "How (eichah) she has become a whore, the faithful city that was filled with justice." (Isaiah 1:21) It's also traditional to chant the haftarah with the mournful tune that's used for Eichah/Lamentations.

Why are these days twins?

In Lamentations, we, the Jews, mourn what has happened to our people and their land because of the terrible things we have done. In the haftarah, Caroline says, God mourns for us and what we have brought upon ourselves. "Why do you seek further beatings, that you continue to offend? Every head is ailing, and every heart is sick." (Isaiah 1:5)

And this is where we meet: in our common grief. And this is how we reconcile: in changing our destructive and self-destructive ways."Zion shall be rescued in justice, and her repentant ones, in doing the right thing." (Isaiah 1:27)

No comments: