shaping the new
The First Step –
Reflections on Tish b’Av 5779
10 Av 5779 (Aug. 11, 2019)
by Tzvi Schnee
Belief in G-d presupposes that He exists; our belief is an acknowledgment of His existence. However, true emunah (belief) should also acknoweldge His sovereignty: “I am the L-RD thy G-d” (Exodus 20:2, JPS, 1917 Tanach). According to one rabbinical commentator, acceptance of the first Commandment is a statement of belief. This precedes acceptance of the commandments themselves; in other words, the commandments are predicated upon the authority of G-d (Baal Halachos Gedolos). Therefore, belief in G-d, and acceptance of His sovereignty are linked together. It is one step to believe in G-d, it is another step to take upon ourselves the observance of His commandments.
The first step towards change may be understood as an act of faith; to move from one place to another, physically or spiritually requires a bold decision, often in the midst of uncertainty. Our individual expectations, and faith that the first step taken will lead to a new perspective, encompasses the essential stance to move from one madreiga (level) to another. Despite the past, change and a comittment to H’Shem, as well as the mitzvot (commandments) will bring about a better future.
Although Tish b’Av is considered to be the worst day in Jewish history, when both Temples were destroyed, over five hundred years apart from each other (the first in 586 B.C.E., the second in 70 C.E.), in the future, the Ninth of Av will be a joyous day. It is written in Kitvei Kodesh (Holy Scripture), concerning the minor fasts that commemorate other tragic events, that they shall eventualy be “to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful seasons; therefore love ye truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19, JPS 1917 Tanach). According to the Talmud, the same is true of Tish b’Av, “All who mourn [the destruction of] Jerusalem will merit to see it in its joy” (Ta’anit 30b). May we look forward to that day.