Tisha B'Av

Concluding Tisha B’av today, many powerful emotions are evoked; like sadness, longing, despair, and - most poignantly - a deep sense of loss. However, I’d like to suggest another way of focusing as we move forward: this day should have awoken within us a deep sense of responsibility.

Why? Because we don’t live this way any more. Because we are fortunate enough to live in a free country, in a society that protects and defends us, close to friends and family who imbue our lives with joyous meaning. Jews today hardly experience starvation, destitution or lethal persecution, relative to the past. In general, our terrible past contrasts sharply with our comfortable present.

Therefore - we have a responsibility to celebrate our circumstances, to live lives full of rich experiences, spiritual beauty, and deep commitments. We have a responsibility to take advantage of all our resources and freedoms, to demonstrate that Jews don’t need persecution to be fully aware of their Jewishness. We have a responsibility to our ancestors, who clung to their Jewishness through hellish experience, to embrace it amid comfort and opportunity. And we have a responsibility to our descendants who will look to us and ask: what did you contribute to the Jewish story?

Having felt the destruction, we should truly rebuild. A Jewishness that thrives on freedom and opportunity: let that be our legacy.

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