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July 27, 1990 - Image 56

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-07-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

'In-Between' Temple
Mourned On Tisha B'Av

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he fast of the ninth of
Av is mentioned in the
book of Zecharia (8:10)
as the fast of the fifth month.
Zecharia the prophet lived
and preached in Jerusalem
after the return from the
Babylonian exile. Tradi-
tionally, this very sad, often
rainy day, marks the
destruction of both temples
(586 BCE by the Babylo-
nians and 70 CE by the
Romans), the fall of Bar
Kochba's fortress Betar, the
expulsion from Spain in
1492, and at least one
murderous Nazi campaign
during the Holocaust.
There is a tradition that it
was on the night of Tisha
B'Av that the twelve spies
brought back their un-
favorable report on the
promised land to the
Israelites in the desert.
Upon hearing this report,
the Israelites are reported to
have burst into tears, and
God swore that the whole
generation that had left
Egypt would never see the
promised land but would
perish in the desert.
Tisha B'Av resembles Yom
Kippur in some of the re-
strictions upon personal be-
havior. One is expected to
abstain from eating, drink-
ing and bathing from sunset
to sunset. It is unlike Yom
Kippur, however, in that one
fasts on the Day of Atone-
ment even if it falls on
Shabbat, while the fast is
postponed for one day when
the 9th of Av falls on a Sat-
urday.
The three weeks between
the 17th of Tammuz and the
9th of Av are three weeks
without festivities and
joyous celebrations, and
when the month of Av has
begun, all joy is further
reduced.
During the first nine days
of Av, many religious people
refrain from eating meat,
except on Shabbat. These
first nine days are known as
"the nine days,” a period of
intensified mourning over
the misfortunes of Israel.
The Shabbat before this
fast day is called Shabbat
Chazon, from the first words
of the Haftarah, Chazon
Yeshayahu — the vision of
Isaiah. (Isaiah, 1:1)

Leonard Winograd is a retired
rabbi living in Pittsburgh.

Immediately after the
evening service, which is
conducted in semi-darkness
with the congregation seated
on stools as though in mour-
ning, the Megillat Eicha is
chanted, the Book of Lamen-
tations, traditionally as-
cribed to Jeremiah.
It apparently deals with a
terrible calamity, but many
scholars insist that this is
not the destruction of the
First or Second Temple but
rather with an "in-between"
ill-fated Temple which did
not long endure.
Dirges, or Kinot are read
or recited in the morning as
well as in the evening, and
there is a custom of visiting
the cemetery in order to
heighten the sense of loss.
Tallitot and tefillin are not
worn until the afternoon
service.
These kinot or elegies were
composed by medieval poets
in sad remembrance of our
loss of autonomy and in-
dependence. One modern
custom is that of having the
congregation sit on the floor
around a Magen David
formed by lit yahrzeit
candles, burning in a dark
room.
One way around the prob-
lem of reading in darkness is
to have the pages of the
Kinot and Lamentations
projected onto a movie
screen either by an opaque
projector or on ordinary
slides.
Following the style of the
book of Lamentations, Rabbi
Elazar ha Kallir of the
eighth century, and other
payyetanim, " or liturgical
poets, wrote dirges describ-
ing contemporary persecu-
tions, and expressing per-
sonal sorrow over the suffer-
ings of our people.
Spain produced more than
its fair share of such elegists
—Rabbi Solomon ibn
Gabirol, Rabbi Yehuda
haLevi, Rabbi Moses ibn
Ezra and Rabbi Abraham
ibn Ezra. Only a small por-
tion of the many kinot corn-
posed by these poets are now
recited in our synagogues on
the morning of Tisha B'Av
after the Torah reading.
One of the most famous is
an alphabetical acrostic,
Lament 0' Zion, by HaLevi.
It is chanted to its own spe-
cial chant.
One reason for the ongoing
debate over the Jewish roots
of Christopher Columbus is
that in his log, he took note
of the Hebrew date of his

Ci

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