Sign In Forgot Password

The Battles of Summer

06/08/2022 12:51:30 PM


Rabbi Moshe Rudin


The Jewish holiday cycle has ended with the last morsel of cheesecake on Shavuot.   Now, we get to have some fun in the sun...  relaxation, recreation...  

Yes, but....

Is it just me or is "yes, but" what Yiddishkeit (Judaism) says about a lot of things?  YES, the holidays have helped uplift, inspire, improve and nurture us.  We certainly deserve some time for vacation, rest and laying aside the mad pace of life and focus on ourselves.  BUT... there is one more holiday.  Not so much a holiday as a day of acknowledgement that it hasn't been all mountaintops and pilgrimages, this journey of our history.  The final holiday on the calendar is called Tisha B'Av, a day so bleak that it doesn't really even have a name, just a date: Tisha B'Av, the ninth of Av.  

But that's not until August!  We know the drill: no music, no partying, no new clothing until after that day, the day of commemoration of the destruction of the Temple, the exile among the nations, the Crusades, Spanish Expulsion, Chmielniki Massacres of the 1600's, the Outbreak of World War One and what came after, the Holocaust-  But now... but now...

Now, in the sweet summertime, according to the history of the Middle East, is the season when Kings  would go out to conquer and make war.  The heat, lack of rain, the fields barren of grain all make sieges and battles easier, easier to oppress and harm and break down human resistance and spirit with the power of organized violence.  

It was during this period that the Babylonians and later, the Romans ended Jewish self-rule and Jewish freedom.  Tisha B'Av begins with the hottest part of summer on the 17th of Tammuz, coming up in just a month. Summer might be down time, but there is a force abroad in the world that is unrelenting, that takes the heat of the summer and weaponizes it.  Perhaps that force is still abroad as our society and world confront wave after wave of violence, rising despair and inaction.  

So the summer isn't just the season of vacation.  It is the season of battle.  What is the lesson for us? 

The Torah describes two kinds of battle: one is fought within the heart and the other is fought with the hand, fought with violence.  If the heart overcomes, then the battle of violence never happens.  But if the heart fails and the hand triumphs- Tisha B'Av.  Let us use these months of summer to not stop growing, caring, engaging, connecting.  And yes, also to enjoy, relax, self-care and rest!

Shabbat Shalom-

Mon, July 15 2024 9 Tammuz 5784