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The Jewish Heritage Experience

August 16, 2011, by

In retrospect, a lot has been said and written about enhancing the Tisha B’Av experience. For many of us the “loss” of our holy places is very abstract; we know that historically we’ve suffered national catastrophes, but feeling it on a personal level is another matter. For that reason, and for many years running, the

A Nation’s Loss: National Mourning in the Jewish Tradition

August 2, 2011, by

Grief is a fundamentally individual, transformative emotion. What can it mean to speak about “national grief, or national mourning”? Is there any calamity which a nation suffers that so alters its fundamental nature as to be truly analogous to the existential crisis the death of a loved one brings to an individual? Certainly, nations have

A Chronology of Destruction

July 26, 2011, by

The following is a list of the major events leading up to the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. First Temple 3316: Yehoyakim ben Yoshiyahu becomes King of Judea (II Kings 23:36) 3320: Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon conquers Judea. He removes part of the Temple’s holy vessels and children of the royal

In Narrow Places: Part II

June 29, 2011, by

Below is part two in a three-part series of excerpts from Dr. Erica Brown’s introduction to In the Narrow Places: Daily Inspiration for the Three Weeks To view the first excerpt, please visit: In Narrow Places: Part I Shabbat Shalom will feature the last excerpt next week. Dr. Brown is one of the foremost Jewish

In the Narrow Places: Part I

June 21, 2011, by

Below is part one in a three-part series of excerpts from Dr. Erica Brown’s introduction to In the Narrow Places: Daily Inspiration for the Three Weeks Shabbat Shalom will feature the remaining excerpts in weeks to come. Dr. Brown is one of the foremost Jewish educators of our time. Through her writing, study groups and

Devarim: Learning Torah on Tisha B’Av

July 14, 2010, by

One of the expressions of mourning on Tisha beAv is that we refrain from studying Torah, just as a mourner does (SA OC 554). The gemara bases this rule on the verse from Tehillim (19:9) “The commands of HaShem are straight, rejoicing the heart” (Taanit 30a). However, this prohibition is not absolute. The same passage

Joy During the Nine Days

June 22, 2010, by

The Mishnah (Ta’anit 25b) says that once the month of Av begins, during the Nine Days, we have to reduce our joy. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 551:2) rules according to the Rishonim who interpret this rule as meaning that we may not engage in business, build items that bring us pleasure or make preparations

Devarim: Commemoration of the Destruction

July 23, 2009, by

Although the Temple in Yerushalayim has been desolate for almost two thousand years, its memory is very much alive for the Jewish people. We remember the Temple in our daily prayers, in our periodic fasts including that of Tisha b’Av starting Motzei Shabbat, and also in various customs which continue the mourning over the loss

Devarim: Serenity & Desire

July 22, 2009, by

Tisha B’av and Devarim (the parsha) make appropriate bedfellows. Chazal find in Moshe’s eicha complaint echoes of Yirmiyahu and future lamentations. Thus the prevalent minhag of chanting that verse in the sad eicha tune. Devarim, Moshe’s retrospective is all about what could have been and what went wrong. Finally, it is a parsha that sows

A Nation’s Loss

July 7, 2009, by

NATIONAL MOURNING IN THE JEWISH TRADITION The news of a loved one’s death utterly transforms us and our perception of the world. A young man, returning to his studies after being called home following the death of his father said, “The buildings were all in their familiar places, but it was a wholly different place…