December 11, 2019

Does the Existence of Israel Invalidate Tisha B'Av?

“On Tisha B’Av, 1934, Labor Zionist leader Berl Katznelson, was horrified by the news that one of the youth movements had headed off to summer camp on the annual fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. His shock was such that it led him to write his famous article, “Destruction and Disassociation.”

In his piece, Katznelson wondered what value there is in a liberation moment that has no roots and suffers from amnesia. He noted that “had Israel not known how to mourn our destruction for generations, we would not have seen the rise of [French Jewish philosopher and Labor Zionism founder Moses] Hess, [Zionist activist and pioneer Leon] Pinsker, [Zionist visionary Theodor] Herzl nor [Zionist leader Max] Nordau … [Spanish Jewish philosopher] Yehuda Halevi would not have created ‘Ode to Zion’ and [Jewish poet] Hayim Nahman Bialik would not have written ‘The Scroll of Fire.'”

Eighty-five years have since passed, but as far as Tisha B’Av is concerned, not much has changed. The fast day still suffers from a lack of popularity among the general public. Many wonder why, as citizens of a sovereign Jewish state, they should mourn Jerusalem and the temple’s destruction some 2,000 years ago. Only a few people still harbor real pain over the destruction of the temple, and only a narrow sector of the public is connected to the temple and yearn for it.”

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