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Issues of the Day Lamentations: Reflections on the Ninth of Av

Saturday night and today (July 28-29, 2012) correspond to the Hebrew date of the Ninth of Av. In Jewish tradition, a fast commemorates the fall of the two ancient  Hebrew Commonwealths on the same day, some five hundred years apart (421 BCE and  70 BCE). The deaths of millions of people took place in the course of both calamities and long periods of exile resulted from them. Other catastrophes throughout Jewish history are associated with the date.

In reflecting on the day and the haunting dirge, the Book of Lamentations which was read in Jewish centers throughout Israel and the world last evening,  I am touched both by the particularistic message it contains for Israel and the Jewish people, while also resonating universally for humanity as a whole. Recent events -- the slaughter in Syria and the massacre in Aurora, Colorado, floods in Beijing and drought in the American heartland,  an impoverished Israeli who set himself ablaze and economic insecurity throughout Europe, the destruction of revered archeological treasures in Timbaktu and  resurgent suicide terror from Baghdad to Burgas -- render the Prophet Jeremiah’s words eerily resonate

Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out thy heart like water before the face of the Lord; lift up thy hands toward Him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger at the head of every street. 


In a globalized world such as our own, acts of folly and vanity ripple far and wide with the potential for harm and destruction – nuclear, environmental, economic, social –sufficient to consume us all.

Politicians around the world would do well to read the jeremiad, Eicha, Lamentations, recited last night. The consequences of hubris are immense, today more than ever.

Sobered by the message implicit to Lamentations, people around the world who respect life and the lives of all others who are willing to live peacefully and respectfully with their global neighbors endeavor to build bridges instead of erecting walls.

© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved