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