this might help you understand, olive!

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    Tisha B'Av....the 9th of Av in the Jewish calendar was yesterday.....the 7th August in the secular calendar......does not fall on the not the same secular date each year

    Aug. 8, 2003
    Interesting Times: A feat of memory, by Saul Singer

    To the devout secularist, there is something offensive about commemorating an ancient defeat, as we do on Tisha Be'av. Interior Minister Avraham Poraz openly berated the idea of remembering the destruction of the Temple. It's old, it's sad, it's negative why keep doing it?

    Commemorating defeat may seem strange, but it is hardly unique. The Crucifixion is obviously central to Christianity, and Shi'ite Muslims flail themselves to mourn the death in battle of Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, whom they believe to be his rightful heir.

    Yet what is striking about Tisha Be'av is that it is about a defeat, but is far from defeatist. If anything, there is something triumphalist about the way we have succeeded in not letting the import of this particular event fade away.

    Tisha Be'av is first of all a feat of memory. My daughter is only in first grade, but she knows that on Tisha Be'av the Temple was destroyed. That means she is conscious of an event that happened to her people over 2,500 years ago, and that there was a Temple, even though it has not existed for two millennia.

    As Jews, we are essentially saying to ourselves and the world: We remember something that happened to us before you (Christians, Muslims, etc.) even existed. And we are still here to remember.

    At the 2000 Camp David summit, Yasser Arafat stunned Americans and Israelis alike by denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. This sent the Israelis scurrying to dictionaries and other reference works to show that the existence of the Temple was not some Jewish fantasy.

    They need not have bothered with such modern forms of proof. That Palestinian need to constantly deny our connection and proclaim their own only emphasizes our ties. On Tisha Be'av we read, on the floor and by candlelight, Lamentations, an entire book in our cannon mourning the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple.

    The Palestinians have resorted to naming their terrorist offensive after al-Aksa Mosque as a way of playing catch-up and to assert their connection. Jews, whether they know or like it or not, have the Temple Mount tattooed into their history and collective memory. Neither those among us who wish our connection would disappear, nor our enemies who would sever it through terrorism, can hope to make much of a mark on the deep incisions of history and tradition.

    It is something of an Islamic tradition to build mosques on the holy sites of others, and the Temple Mount is a prime example of that. But in a way, the Jewish ability to derive identity and meaning detached from fixed places has been our strength. Ironically, nothing reminds of this more than Tisha Be'av.

    Ancient religions were centered on places and on power. Jews invented the idea of a universal God at a time when gods were local, as illustrated by story of Jonah, who thought he could escape God by going out to sea, but found that God was out there, too.

    IN THE ancient world, destroying the Temple and dispersing the people was supposed to mean the end of that people and religion. Instead, after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Judaism morphed into an almost new religion that was no longer Temple-centric, held together instead by the Torah and Halacha.

    It is perhaps understandable that modernists such as Poraz are repulsed by the idea of a Temple, with all its retro practices, such as animal sacrifices. What they should instead realize is that the Temple and its aftermath illustrate two progressive aspects of Judaism.

    First, while animal sacrifices now seem barbaric to us, they were a great advance at a time when human sacrifices were common. The Hinnom valley, which runs between the walled and new parts of Jerusalem today, was called by the Greeks "Gehenna," from which the word hell was derived. Why? Because that is where pagans practiced child sacrifice to their gods.

    Second, the contrast with the Temple-era emphasizes how much Judaism has evolved. In essence, Judaism can be thought of as three religions separated by time: the period of the patriarchs, before the giving of Torah; the time centered on the Land and the Temple; and the post-Temple rabbinic period that continues today.

    Devout secularists believe the response to modernity should be for religion in general and Judaism in particular to whither away. A more savvy approach might be to encourage a reinvigoration of our evolutionary juices.

    Modernity is a shock to the system as great as the settlement of the Land three millennia ago and exile from it a millennium later. None of Judaism's streams Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform has fully adjusted to the twin developments of modernity and a return to Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

    The Conservative and Reform movements have embraced the need to evolve, but they have not succeeded in assuming the mantle of authenticity and legitimacy from the Orthodox. They also have not proven they can reverse the tide of assimilation.

    The Orthodox, while having a better record at keeping their children in the fold and passing on their traditions, have failed to capture the imagination of the non-Orthodox majority. The existence and success of non-Orthodox Judaism is the greatest illustration of Orthodoxy's failure to take advantage of Judaism's historic evolutionary capabilities.

    All three streams are essentially engaged in a holding action, whose net result is a shrinking Jewish people. There is no excuse for this, given that Judaism is potentially at least as good a candidate as Christianity and Islam to meet the human need for meaning in the modern world.

    Tisha Be'av may seem to be about destruction, but its meaning is more about survival. The usual lesson taken is that the Temple was destroyed because of gratuitous hatred, and that we are most threatened by our internal divisions. There is ample truth to this, but another lesson is that we ultimately survived because of an ability to adapt to the tectonic changes of our times.
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