Archive for July, 2012

July 28, 2012 commemorates one of the saddest days in the biblical calendar. It is called Tisha B’Av, the ninth of Av in the biblical calendar. This is the day, according to the Bible when the first Temple constructed by Solomon was destroyed by the invading Babylonian army (Jeremiah 52 and 2 Kings 25). According to Jewish tradition, this was also the day on which the reconstructed Temple was destroyed in AD 70, by the invading Roman army.

The prophets of the Bible pondered over the meaning of this very sad happening. “How can this happen?” This is the place where the presence of God dwelt. Indeed, when the people were saved from the slavery, at the hands of Pharaoh, they sang,

“Till your people Passover, O LORD,

Till your people Passover,

The people you have recreated

You bring them

You plant them on your own mountain

The place, O LORD

You have made your abode

The Sanctuary, O LORD

Your hands have established

The LORD will reign forever and ever.” (Exodus 15:16,17)

Yet, the prophets pondered that the people had desecrated the Temple- this very place that was the goal of the Exodus. They performed all the rituals in the Temple. But, their lives lived against the ethics of the LORD of the Temple. So the prophet Jeremiah shouted,

“Hear the word of the LORD

You people who enter these gates to worship the LORD

Thus says the LORD

The God of Israel

`Amend your ways

And your deeds

I will let you dwell in this place.

Do not trust in lying words

‘This is the Temple of the LORD

This is the Temple of the LORD

This is the Temple of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 7:1-4)

Sadly, the people trusted in the false hope that nothing will happen to them and the Temple, just because it was among them, and they religiously performed all the rituals.  They did not straighten their ethics, “to do justice with one another; to not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless, the widow; to not shed innocent blood of the poor in the Temple” (Jeremiah 7:5-6). Therefore, sadly the prophet Jeremiah records, “In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month . . . he (the general of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon) entered the house of the LORD, and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every lofty house he burned down.” (Jeremiah 52:12)

The ninth of Av is a sad, yet, profound reminder that hollow religiosity and rituals do not count with God. He wants people, today as then, to live by His ethics and not according to the ethics of present day society. He wants his people  “to do justice; to not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow; to not shed innocent blood of the poor. . .”

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