Reasons: Joyful Mourning
I have heard people explain the Holocaust as the expression of God’s anger with Reform Judaism, which began in Germany. That would not explain why the Germans massacred so many more traditional Jews, or why Poland and Hungary were burned by the fires of the concentration camps.
People are desperate for answers and will accept anything that will allow them, with a few dashes of cognitive dissonance, to understand our suffering over the ages.
“A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity.” (The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus)
David Klinghoffer made the unforgivable, horrible, and hateful mistake of suggesting that the Bible actually warns us what will happen if we do not serve God with joy and abundance. How could he? I am under the impression that he was fired from First Things (I cancelled my subscription in protest) for arguing the Bible’s point of view.
How strange! We prefer bad reasons and explanations to reading the Bible as reality!
I wonder what would happen if, as Klinghoffer suggested, we listen to the Bible’s warnings and demands: “Because you did not serve God, your Lord, amid gladness and goodness of heart, when everything was abundant.” (Deuteronomy 28:47)
We are quite skilled at mourning and crying. We even manage to mangle happy verses and chant them as lamentations: “My help is from God, Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:2) I don’t know about you, but the verse makes me sing, not mourn. “God will protect you from every evil. He will guard your soul.” Sounds good to me. I don’t want to cry over that verse. I want to yell it out with joy and confidence.
I would like to suggest that when the Talmud teaches that “We lessen our joy when the Hebrew month Menachem Av begins”, means exactly that: lessen, not eradicate. Perhaps a little joy is in order.
We can celebrate the fact that the Temple is still so real to us that we continue to mourn more than two thousand years after its destruction. We can rejoice in the fact that, although his own generation ignored him, we listen to Jeremiah 2400 years later as if he was still alive. We can serve with confidence that all the murder, pogroms, crusades, wars, suffering, poverty, torture and more have not been able to destroy our faith. We continue to serve God and to strive to rebuild His Temple.
Perhaps a little more joy in our service will make our mourning more meaningful and potent.
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