The fast of Tisha b'Av came at sunset last night, after the final meal (carbs, baby!) and a pre-fast marathon of drinking immense amounts of water to ensure some probability of making it through the longest fast day of the Hebrew calendar without emerging with a migrane or dehydration.
I joined several thousand other people in Safra Square (the HQ of the Jerusalem Municipality) where Women in Green ("Women for Isrel's Tomorrow) sponsored the evening - first Ma'ariv prayers ("we can't begin davening until women move to the left side of the square and men to the right, please!") and then the reading of Eicha (the Book of Lamentations), the most mournful of all Scriptures.
And so begins the prophet Jeremiah's lament:
How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks; she hath none to comfort her among all her lovers; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.
After reading (in Hebrew of course) the entire Book of Lamentations, the entire group of some thousands of people all walked together around the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. After reading about the destruction of the walls, the gates and the Temple, the exile of our people and the humiliations we endured at the hands of our enemies, it was noteworthy to mark the high level of police and army security accompanying the walkers, especially through East Jerusalem, where Arab pop music wafted through the night and bathed the marchers in the sounds of discomfort.
Finally ended up at the Kotel with about 100,000 other people. Some sat on the ground, others on low chairs, mats or pillows, others stood and roamed. More people than ever wore orange bracelets, orange t-shirts - orange is the color of protest against the disasterous Israeli government policy of "disengagement," which has wrought nothing but havoc and heartache on the population of Gush Katif, Northern Samaria, and threatens everyone else in Eretz Yisrael if our government continues to believe and act on The Big Lie - i.e., that if we give land for peace, there will be peace.
We gave away Gaza - and not a day has gone by since we "disengaged" that Kassam rockets have not fallen in Israel "proper," especially the Western Negev town of Sderot.
We have a lot to mourn for - past and present.
We will have a lot MORE to mourn for if we continue our present course of idiocy and denial of reality.
Our Siddur (prayer book) reminds us every day that Jerusalem was destroyed and we, the Jewish people, were sent into exile "because of our sins." Not because of other people's sins, not because of "anti-semitism," but because of OUR sins - first and foremost amongst them, NOT believing and having faith in the God of Israel.
May this Tisha b'Av bring clarity to our minds, repentance to our hearts and determination that we should remember the words of Jeremiah in the 3rd Chapter of Lamentations:
"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. Surely the LORD'S mercies are not consumed, surely His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. 'The LORD is my portion', saith my soul; 'Therefore will I hope in Him.' The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him. It is good that a man should quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD."