Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tisha b'Av

A Jerusalem Beggar at the Wall, Tish'a b'Av, around 1920

Tisha b'Av, the ninth in the month of Av, this year August 4-5, commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temple, which both occurred on the ninth of Av, about 655 years apart.

Legend has it that the Messiah was born when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. God commanded Elijah to place the captive Messiah and the souls of the dead on one side of the scales, and fill the other side with tears, torture and the souls of the righteous. God then announced that “the face of the Messiah would be seen when the scales were balanced." (from Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path)

While Kafka so poignantly says that the Messiah will come when he is no longer needed, the idea of new creation rising from the ruins of destruction, may have particular validity on days like today, when hopefully new initiatives toward peace and reconciliation may arise.

Rainer Maria Rilke: The Song of the Beggar

I am always going from door to door,
whether in rain or heat,
and sometimes I will lay my right ear in
the palm of my right hand.
And as I speak my voice seems strange as if
it were alien to me,

for I’m not certain whose voice is crying:
mine or someone else’s.
I cry for a pittance to sustain me.
The poets cry for more.

In the end I conceal my entire face
and cover both my eyes;
there it lies in my hands with all its weight
and looks as if at rest,
so no one may think I had no place where-
upon to lay my head.

No comments: