I Don’t Like The Tisha B’av Routine.

9 Aug

I don’t like Eicha. I don’t like kinos. I don’t like listening to videotaped mussar speeches. Why not? Well, I want to throw out some intelligent sociological reason to make it seem like I do things because I’m smarter than the rest of the plebes, but I feel stupid lying anonymously to other anonymous people over the internet.

So it’s not because the language is archaic, or that I’m desensitized to graphic descriptions, or even that modern Jewish tragedies emotionally dwarf something that took place in antiquity. Those all sound nice and logical. But the real reason is because They made me do it. They forced me to do it when I didn’t want to and terrified me with horrible things that would happen if I didn’t.

Care about the Bais Hamikdash being destroyed! Care about us losing Yerushalaim 2000 years ago! Didn’t you just sing, “If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my tongue stick to my pallet” ? You know you had better care, because God gets mad at people who don’t care about his Bais Hamikdash. The unspoken undercurrent to all this was, Who knows what that psycho will do?

Even the gruesome parts about things that happened to the people back then were taught to me in the same vain. Here, use this. Use this imagery of our ancestors being slaughtered to evoke some emotion. Do whatever it takes to make it look like you care about the Temple, and the sacrifices, and all that. In some deep subconscious recess of my parents’ and Rebbeim’s minds, it was probably saying, I hope you understand, child, I’m trying to protect you.

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve distanced myself to some extent from the community and the childhood fears. It wasn’t an intentional thing. I’m still part of the community. I just also became part of the outside world. And then, slowly, kind of automatically, it crept in that this is America, and most people aren’t out to get me, and probably not God either.

He probably doesn’t demand fealty just because he’s in charge. He might want me to be a free, happy person. He might even want me to be “self-actualized”, like I learned about in a treifeh psychology class in college.

Hmm, let me think that through. Maybe what God wants most of me is to be a good person. To help out those weaker than me, and stand up to the bullies in lfe. To trust that he always has my back, so I’ll be able to move forward even when I’m scared. Maybe all the Mitzvos, the rituals and prayers, are entirely meaningless when they’re aimed at trying to appease an insecure psycho in the sky.

Of course, I may be deluded and wrong. But it seems to me that this is exactly what the prophet Isaiah put as the very first chapter of his book 2500 years ago.

11 Responses to “I Don’t Like The Tisha B’av Routine.”

  1. Baal Habos August 9, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    “The unspoken undercurrent to all this was, Who knows what that psycho will do? ” Gevaldig.

    • itchemeyer August 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      It’s crazy when you uncover what’s really driving everything.

  2. tesyaa August 9, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t figure this out until I was over 40. If you figured it out in your 20s or 30s, you’re lucky.

    • itchemeyer August 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

      Yeah, I guess, my parents haven’t figured it out yet and neither have thousands of other people. I think you need the distance to recognize it. But idk.

  3. Wolrep August 9, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    Friggin’ A

  4. Gutman Braun August 10, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    I’ve been trying to convince my wife of this for a few years now… no luck so far.

    My feelings on Tisha B’Av:

    It really is a tragic and depressing. You see, Tisha B’Av wasn’t just an end; it was a beginning as well – the beginning of what we familiarly know as Orthodox-Judaism, a.k.a. Yiddishkeit. Until the churban, the Jewish people were progressing nicely along with all of civilization. We hadn’t heard of 613 mitzvos and all those nice things. We hadn’t heard of most of what we consider bread & butter Judaism today – you know, things like waiting between meat and milk or counting additional clean days before a nidah goes to mikvah. Take out a Tanach and you can’t help but notice that they would have been very unfamiliar with our form of Judaism.

    OK, so during the second Temple period they had acquired many halachic innovations, but Jewish life was still quite different than the one that we know and don’t necessarily love. And it seems that with each successive churban it all got worse. Progress was halted during the first chuban, and we even go backwards which each tragedy along the way.

    This is why I think that Tisha B’Av is the quintessential holiday of Rabbinic Judaism, and why it’s so tragic. Everybody knows the famous Gemara that gets so much air-play on Tisha B’Av, which records the account of a fox emerging from the kodosh-hakedoshim and rabbi Akiva’s laughter. I can’t help but think that Rabbi Akiva laughed because together with the churban and subsequent exiles, Chaza”l would replace the Temple as the single strangest definition of what it means to be a Jew, and that Rabbi Akiva’s, “rabbinic Judaism,” would be what defines the Jewish people — and as result of this change in the collective Jewish identity, we have been rewarded with those wonderful Inquisitions, Crusades, Pogroms, Libels, Expulsions, Cossacks, Holocausts and Islamo-terrorists…not to mention “daas torah.”

    • itchemeyer August 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      …not to mention “daas torah.”
      lol. oy.

  5. hotshot bald cop August 30, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Preach it my brother.

  6. itchemeyer July 16, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Reblogged this on yeshivaforum and commented:

    I wrote this a while ago but thought of it again this week when someone mentioned how they taught her about tisha bav in satmar girls camp. I still dont get anything out of tisha bav because of this.

    • David Waxman August 12, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      Don’t leave me hanging. How do they teach about 9 b’Av at Satmar girls camp?

  7. MichaelinnonoTak December 2, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    Таможенная очистка Одесса DAF

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