Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Sabbath of Vision: 5781

Shabbat Hazon 2021: This Sabbath is called the Sabbath of Vision because of its Haftorah - the third in the series of three Haftorot of Affliction - which begins:

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the LORD hath spoken: Children I have reared, and brought up, and they have rebelled against Me. 
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider. 
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly; they have forsaken the Lord, they have contemned the Holy One of Israel, they are turned away backward.

Much of the Haftorah is sung to the tune of Eicha (Lamentations), which we will - unless the Messiah comes while we wait! - sing mournfully when the Black Fast of Tisha b'Av begins this coming Motzei Shabbat, Saturday evening.

As Charles Dickens put it

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us ....

The days surrounding Tisha b'Av, we all know, were and have continued to be the absolute worst of times.

What Happened on Tisha b'Av

The classic 5 calamities:

  1. The Twelve Spies sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission. 
  2. The First Temple built by King Solomon  was destroyed by the Babylonians. 
  3. The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans.
  4. The Romans crushed Bar Kokhba's revolt, destroyed the city of Betar, and 
  5. plowed the site of the Temple in Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

And more calamities:

  1. The First Crusade officially commenced.
  2. The Jews were expelled from England.
  3. The Jews were expelled from France.
  4. The Jews were expelled from Spain.
  5. Germany entered World War I.
  6. The "Final Solution" was approved by the Nazi Party.
  7. The mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka began.

And even more calamities:

  1. The AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was bombed.
  2. The Israeli disengagement from Gaza began.
We are Jews, and we continue to have hope. 
Even as we prepare for Shabbat Hazon, A Sabbath of Vision.

Each year, as we approach Tisha b'Av, we are not supposed to be joyous or joyful, or even just happy. And we are not supposed to do anything that will make us happy.

For Abq Jew, and for many others, this means no listening to (especially, live) music. But sometimes music doesn't make us happy - it makes us think (see, for example, Sunita Staneslow's performance of Al Naharot Bavel).

This year, Abq Jew offers - for your introspection - How to Be Sad on Tisha B'av, written by Laura E Adkins, the Forward's Opinion Editor.

How to Be Sad on Tisha B’av
By Laura E. Adkins   July 14, 2021

No one likes to be in pain. But what if we stopped resisting it? Just for one day?

Tisha B’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, begins Saturday evening. For 25 hours, observant Jews fast and deny themselves certain other comforts to mourn the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago, along with myriad other tragedies in Jewish history.

The halachic rules of Tisha B’av are straightforward: don’t eat or drink, bathe or have sex, sit or sleep in comfortable positions, wear leather shoes or put on makeup or lotion.

But too often, many of us follow these strictures yet ignore the larger point.

On Tisha B’av, our tradition offers us a clear path toward experiencing something transcendent. I’ve collected several strategies below that you can use, whether or not you’re a religious person, to get into the right headspace. 

Abq Jew strongly encourages himself ... and you, his loyal readers ... to read Ms Adkins' complete article. Here are her nine key strategies:

  1. Get uncomfortable.
  2. Take a break from distractions.
  3. Let it be hard.
  4. Go somewhere bigger than you are and let yourself empty.
  5. Approach your pain with curiosity.
  6. Write it down.
  7. Ask why — and accept when you do not and cannot know the answer.
  8. Get mad at God.
  9. Choose to have a relationship with the divine anyway.

About that last strategy, Ms Adkins writes:

Traditional Jewish sources suggest that the Messiah will be born on Tisha B’av. Whether you take this literally or metaphorically, the awesome power of pain is what can emerge after it clears away what wasn’t meant to be there in the first place.

When the temple is restored, we’re told, Tisha B’av will be a day of celebration. But this restoration can only come when we’ve truly processed our pain and trauma, and corrected our mistakes.

The key is to let yourself be moved. 

Fast Days

May we be comforted among the mourners 
of Zion and Jerusalem.

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