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What is the Consolation this Year?

Following the mourning of Tisha b’Av (commemorating the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE and the Second Temple in 70 CE), Jews traditionally read selections from prophets (Haftorot) that draw on images of comfort: the sense that God has not abandoned them, that children will some day again be able to sing and dance in the streets of the cities of Zion in safety and security.

These readings were chosen for these weeks following Tisha b’Av by rabbis living years, if not decades, after the Destruction. They have given hope to thousands of generations of Jews who have faced their own communal traumas, as one enemy after another has risen against us to destroy us.

What is the consolation this year? That we are still here? That Israel is strong enough to defend its citizens? Thank God, otherwise Hezbollah would have overrun Israel long ago and slaughtered or run out every Jew, as their Iranian puppet master has already announced he wants to do.


But military strength, while necessary, may not be sufficient. Israelis were hoping this would be a clean war, soldiers fighting each other, not another ambiguous one where Israeli soldiers wind up hurting civilians they were not targeting.

Is the consolation in the hope that the world will finally see that Israel is in the right? That memory is hard to maintain in the face of relentless and one-sided news coverage of Lebanese civilian suffering?

We Jews know how to mourn. I mourn not only the lives of Israelis lost, but also the terrible loss of life and livelihood for the Lebanese people, who were just beginning to find their way back to normalcy, a normalcy the Hezbollah, not Israel, stole from them. As a Lebanese-American businessman recently was quoted as saying in The New York Times, Lebanon cannot become another Hong Kong if it continues to harbor terrorists.


What is the consolation? Is it Israeli resoluteness, their ability to survive hardship by pulling together, helping each other, keeping spirits up? Is it the mobilization of the American Jewish community to help Israel at this time, by sending missions, by sending funds? (Donations can be sent to your local Jewish Federation.)

Or is the consolation to be found in our refusal to give up hope that maybe this time, after this war, our enemies will be willing to make the peace that is all we ever really wanted?

Posted By Rabbi Susan Grossman

Comments read comments(7)
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Susan Myers

posted August 4, 2006 at 1:58 am

Having a large family in Israel and believing in the teachings of Talmud and Torah, I believe Susan’s comments are worthy and clearly define my own beliefs. Your “female” approach to language helps to explain the conflict as seen by most women who are citizens of Israel. Thank you.

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posted August 6, 2006 at 10:04 pm

Why does man fight just to own earth he will only own for such a short time? Is it not just dirt, the same stuff we shall return to when our current bodies fade away? For why do some believe some ground to be sacred and other not? Is not all of creation sacred?

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posted August 7, 2006 at 7:20 pm

Ahimsaka, well said

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posted August 9, 2006 at 8:41 am

Ahimsaka, If your question are serious questions, rather than rhetorical, then you have raised some profoundly puzzling questions indeed. I think my answers would be somewhat different from yours. You are right–dirt is but dirt, from which we came and to which we return. And there are certainly religions which embrace the shedding of all physicality, of which land would be one vestige. And yet–dirt itself comes in many forms–sandy or rocky, loamy or clay. Climate varies around the world, as does geography. These things do make a difference in how we feel about our surroundings–it took me ten years to get used to a mediterranean-type climate after growing up in the four seasons variety. Now my daughters are making the adjustment in reverse. In neither case was it easy. Also, the sheer aesthetics of a place matter–there are places holy simply because of the way G-d has made them–particular mountains, rivers, oceans, for example. And then, there are places that we make sacred, in the sense of set apart with awe (in either terrible or wonderful sense of the word). Every people has these places; to pick a non-religious place, when I visited Gettysburg, I felt the weight of the dead there and even more at Fredricksburg. It is not that the places, by themselves, resonated. But knowing the history and seeing the places together–that mattered. Yes, in time the memories will be lost and the land clean, but right now, I think the physicality does matter. And that ties into the history–I may “own” the land for a short time, but actually Gettyburg isn’t my land. It is my country’s land, part of a continuous stream of history of which I am a small part.

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Honest person

posted August 11, 2006 at 9:09 pm

I do not know that it is true that hundreds of Israelis are dying every day. I do not understand why a few soldiers who were taken for a prisoner exchange justify the death of so many innocent children, whose lives have been in peril from continued agression since they were born. If you are born into war, and know only fear, how can you learn of love? I think the endless killing is an abomination of any possible spitituality. I am embarrassed that my american taxes are being used in a religious war. I believe in separation of church and state, and secular nationality. Enough have died to praise any g-d of darkness. Let us praise and live in a way that honors life.

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Honest person

posted August 11, 2006 at 10:05 pm

Perhaps I am not wise, and my typos show that – I am horrified that yet another escalating war is pulling our resources away from healing and teaching and living. What lesson have I missed that could enlighten me to understand that killing is an appropriate form of worship?

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charlotte malone

posted August 13, 2006 at 3:34 am

I cannot express how sad it seems to read of “wars and rumors of wars”….I ‘am Protestant and live in South louisiania… the world is unsafe… all we really have are each other and our belief in the the wisdom of God.. :not man: PEACE

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