Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thoughts on the Fast of ’Av

Jewish date:  9 ’Av 5773 (Parashath Wa’Ethḥannan).

Today’s holidays:  The Fast of ’Av (Judaism), Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Roman Catholicism), Display of the Embarrassing Swimsuits (Church of the SubGenius).

Today is the Fast of ’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, marking some of our worst tragedies.  When one reviews the laws for fast days, one of the first things one reads is that fasting and associated practices, while obligatory on certain days, are not an end in themselves.  Thus to spend a fast day touristing or playing video games is forbidden. because that would be missing the point.  Fasting and suffering are a means to the end of repentance.  This post is meant to comment on a contemporary mistake that we have yet to correct.

In previous generations, our ancestors saw fit to act on what they believed was going to happen soon.  YHWH forbade King Dawidh to build the First Temple, but since Dawidh’s son Shelomoh was supposed to build it, Dawidh made all the preparations he could ahead of time.  When many thought that Shim‘on “bar Kokheva’” bar Koziva’ was Mashiaḥ, many took up arms against the Romans to fight the wars that Mashiaḥ is supposed to fight.  And when many thought that Shabbethay Ṣevi was Mashiaḥ, many repented their sins and prepared to move to Israel.  The attitude was that one should act to move events along.  The fact that Mashiaḥ did not actually come at those times is irrelevant to this point.

We are closer to the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies now than at any time in the past 2,000 years.  Not only have we reestablished the Jewish state, but it has survived despite the constant hostility of its neighbors, including terrorism and unprovoked warfare.  All three of the major Abrahamic religions are scrambling to deal with this unprecedented historical change, with adherents trying to adjust their beliefs to the altered situation on the ground or rationalize their way around it.  And while we Jews have been a big winner in this new era, for too many of us the consequences of this new era have not sunk in.

As happened at the start of the Second Temple Period, few of us have returned home to Israel voluntarily, preferring to remain in the Diaspora.  Many of us who did come came because they had little choice in the matter.  Persecution and genocide, both before and after the formation of the State of Israel, have given Jews every reason get out of Europe and the Muslim world.  Those living in places of tolerance, such as the United States, have felt less motivated to make ‘aliyyah.  In such comfortable places, it is very easy to claim to be a Zionist but never act upon it.  Moving to Israel may be a dream or an ideal, but “maybe sometime in the future” very easily becomes “never” in practice.  I myself was guilty of this error until YHWH coerced me into reconsidering.  It is one thing to say one believes that Israel is where Jews belong; it is an entirely different thing to live it.

Even among those of us who live in Israel, the consequences of what we are supposed to be doing have generally not sunken in completely.  Yes, we tithe our produce, and we do not celebrate an extra day of major holidays.  But ever since the destruction of the Second Temple, we have not been able to fully practice Judaism.  Without the Temple, or at least proper access to the Temple Mount, many of the rites that are supposed to performed daily, on Shabbath, and on major holidays cannot be performed.  Part of the problem is the government, or to be specific, every government Israel has had, starting in 1967.  Almost immediately after the Temple Mount was liberated, Mosheh Dayyan returned it to Islamic control, where it has remained, aided and abetted by the police.  The police would rather violate freedom of religion to keep Muslims relatively happy in the short term, even though it is their job to enforce religious tolerance and pandering to violent Muslims never works in the long term.  Muslims are essentially allowed to do anything they want up there, even blatant violations of Israeli law, such as destruction of antiquities, while Jews are openly discriminated against.  Many Jews are turned away for no valid reason, while those who do ascend are warned not to pray and may be harassed by the police and Muslims.  Bringing sacrifices is something the police cannot conceive of permitting at all.

The strange thing is a general lack of concern, even among the observant, for the Temple Mount and the Temple service.  Many of us pray for complete redemption and sing about how we want Mashiaḥ now, but we expect YHWH to do everything and ourselves to do nothing—unlike what our ancestors did.  Very few of us bother to visit the Temple Mount.  Very few of us protest against Muslim desecration of our most holy site.  And very few of us have done anything to get ready for restarting the Temple service.  When confronted with their indifference, many will make excuses based on ritual purity (in contrast with what Jews did in earlier times or that certain sacrifices can be made even while ritually impure) or feign fear of Muslims should Jews reclaim the Temple Mount (despite Muslim complaints about Jews having little to do with reality).  Simply ignoring a large chunk of our religion is irrational, and I can see no way around the problem other than to reclaim the Temple Mount.

May YHWH help us get past the delusion that the status quo must be preserved and lead us to repent.

Various relevant articles:

Also note the Temple Institute, who are working to get ready everything needed for the next Temple.

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