Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tisha be'Av and Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi


Tisha be'Av is coming up this Mozzaei Shabbat and I don't even feel anything about the nine days. Instead I am busy with curing some further injuries being caused in the bus accident more than two weeks ago. Bruised ribs on both sides of the body is anything but pleasant. 

Yesterday was a bad day and I was full of pain. I took some "Dr. Feelgood" but still didn't know how to sit or lay down. I am really looking forward to making normal movements again.:-) Later on today, I am going for physiotherapy and maybe this helps a bit.

I was planning to prepare some articles but, once again, have to delay my description about the accident. Instead, a friend of mine, has written something very recommendable on her blog:

Tisha be'Av is ahead and I don't think that anyone could possibly feel the pain of the destruction of the Temples more than in Jerusalem. On Erev Tisha be'Av, the Kotel (Western Wall) will be filled with thousands of mourning Jews. Jews sitting on the floor of the Kotel Plaza and reading Kinot. Many of them even bring pillows or, believe it or not, mattresses, in order to spend the night at the Kotel. 

With a friend I am going to participate in the march around the Old City walls organized by the "Women in Green". Afterwards we are planning to go to a Shiur. Almost on every corner of Jerusalem you find different Shiurim throughout the night. 

Last night I went to my regular Shiur where we usually study Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi's opinion on Eretz Israel. However, Rabbi Chaim Eisen had put together a few Piyutim (poems) written by Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi. The Piyutim (some verses are part of the Kinot) were describing the tragic massacres of the Crusaders in 1099. As soon as the Crusaders entered Jerusalem on their First Crusade, all Jews and Muslims were killed by them. Furthermore, Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi wrote Piyutim on the massacres taking place in Toledo (Spain). Shortly after, he left Spain for Eretz Israel. According to Rabbi Yehudah, a Jew should YEARN for the return to Eretz Israel. He sees it as one of the biggest Mitzvot to live in Israel. After the massacres of thousands of Jews through Christians and Muslims in Toledo, Rabbi Yehudah came to the conclusion that the Diaspora is not a place for a Jew. A Jew should always strive for living in Israel, as this is the only place where he belongs. 

Diaspora Jews usually don't like to hear this but, in my opinion, Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi was right. Unfortunately too many Jews abroad were and are still not willing to give up their comfortable and convenient lifestyle. Just like those Jews remaining in Babylon while others moved back to Jerusalem and rebuilt the Temple.


  1. We hear often that a Jew should want to live in Israel. And that already now and not waiting for Mashiach. But realistically speaking: Could Israel absorb the millions of Jews who currently live in Diaspora ? Would there be space to all to settle, and that assuming all have some own money to start a life ?
    And if all Jews hypothetically went to settle in Israel, what would be of the world ? Jews must also take position on other lands too (as it is so now).
    In fact there should be more than just 1 Jewish State.
    Think about that :-)

  2. B"H

    In the past, Israel has absorbed millions of new immigrants. Not necessarily at one but just to show that the country does have its resources.

    There is an opinion that when Meshiach is coming, most of the Jews or even all of hem are going to leave for Israel instantly. Actually there is enough space. Especially when you consider that the Land of Israel in biblical terms is much larger than the present state is now.

  3. Not only what miriam said but also the land will miraculously fit all the jews. Just like when we went up to the bais hamikdash, there was not enough room physically to fit every jew in the world. And they went up like...what, 3 times a year? But yet they fit. It was a clear miracle.

    My only argument for this post is that this Rabbi is assuming that most jews can simply leave. Well right now, if I COULD move to israel i would need someone to buy a ticket for me and my wife. Then someone is going to have to offer me a place to live and a job.
    I don't have stashed away money to make this kind of move. I'm $70k in debt from student loans. And it would be naive to think that there are not hundreds of thousands exactly in the same situation as me and hundreds of thousands far worse off than i am.

    That and the language, sure they have ulpans and what not but personally for me it's a very difficult language to learn, and im sure there are plenty of others who have a more difficult time than me.

  4. B"H

    Today, I think that we are all very much aware of the daily difficulties. Not every Jew is able to pack his stuff and run to Israel.

    The most common argument for not making Aliyah is the claim that many Diaspora Jews assume not being able to find a job or make it in Israel. Many of those who made Aliyah went back to the US or elsewhere. And many of those got totally disappointed.

  5. Well, if you affirm that some 5 million could really settle in Israel nowadays, even if having to take West Bank back (an maybe Sinai ?), then there is no argument. I just thought Israel would not have place for ALL. Of course many thousands should keep going if they can. Some make a "partial" Alyiah by buying property (even if not living there). They get by the mitzva by owning real-estate. But then you also don't like those. So let's hope for better times, and see how it will be when we feel Mashiach came.

  6. B"H

    The Torah and many commentators, including Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi in his THE KUZARI, actually tell us that, in the days of Meshiach, the land of Israel will be much bigger than it is now. Parts of today's Jordan and Syria, for instance, are then going to be part of Israel.