Tisha B'Av Resources: Lamenting for our Holy Temple — Earth;
And Glimpsing the Rebirth of Active Hope
Several people have asked me about liturgies for Tisha B’Av (this year, Aug 4-5, just before Hiroshima Day) that focus on dangers to the Earth as the Holy Temple of all cultures and all species, in our generation deeply wounded.
And not only on danger, but — like Eicha itself — ending with "Chadesh yamenu k'kedem, Make our days new as they were long ago!" and a commitment to tshuvah.
There are a dozen essays on Tisha B'Av, including a full liturgy for an Earth-oriented observance with an Eicha for the Earth written by Rabbi Tamara Cohen, plus passages of hope renewed and covenant recommitted, on our website at https://theshalomcenter.org/treasury/116 .
The notion of thinking about Tisha B’Av in this way as a universal, not only a Jewish, teaching, was set forth not only in our generation but in ancient rabbinic midrash. One Rabbi asked, “When was the first Eicha?" and answered: Ayyekka!" — the ‘Where are you?’ that God speaks to Adam & Chava in Gan Eden.
The first exile is universal, primal — and it emerges from what can be seen as a story of eco-destruction. In that story, YHWH – speaking on behalf of all life, all reality – says: “There is wonderful abundance. Eat of it in joy! But show just a little self-restraint: From just one tree, don’t eat!” But they do not restrain themselves, and as a consequence the abundance vanishes.
It is a story of human transgression against the Earth — adam betraying adamah. And the result – disaster. We are living through many such transgressions, now turned global.
One is the story of the oil blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico. (The photo just below is like a graphic chapter in the Eicha of that traumatic tragedy, just as the emblem just above is a graphic version of "Hashivenu — "You Who are the Breath of Life, turn us toward You — and we shall return.")
In addition, especially relevant this year in this dreadful time of war, is a hopeful, joyful midrashic tale by Rabbi Phyllis Berman & me, “The Last Tisha B’Av,” on how Mashiach builds the Third Temple — in a messianic mode, as might be expected. Or at least hoped.
That story could be read at the unique Mincha on Tisha B’Av afternoon when tradtionally we put on t’fillin, or if that is not a likely part of your communal davvening, as an up-beat finale during the evening service. (Or even on your own, to lift your spirits.)
It is in the same collection of essays on Tisha B’Av at