An Open Letter for Tisha B’Av

The 9th day of the month Av in the Jewish Calendar is a fast day. It was established after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem on the 9th Day of the Month of AV. It has been a fast day to remember and learn from the great calamities that have befallen our nation throughout the centuries. Both temples in Jerusalem were destroyed on the same date, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, and many more horrors happened on this day. There are at least 16 great tragedies that have happened to our nation on this very day in the last 2500 years of our history.

The fact that such great calamities have repeatedly happened on this very same day and the fact that God’s prophets in the Bible have repeatedly warned Israel that such calamities will befall us is a clear proof that there is someone who is the Master of History. It is not an accident that these calamities and especially the destruction of both the first temple, the temple that Solomon built and the second temple that Herod the great built have fallen on the same day. Only God could orchestrate such events on the same day. The reasons given by tradition why God allowed these calamities to fall upon our nation is for the first temple idolatry, and for the second temple “vain hate” – hate without reason – sectarianism – division – alienation of minorities and radical attitudes.

Driving into town this morning I listened to the radio and every speaker spoke of the need to tolerate and to be inclusive and not exclusive in our religious attitudes. Scholars and Rabbis spoke well that it is wrong to divide the nation over opinions, religious groups, the LGBT community, and other fringe groups need not be excluded from the nation of Israel. In the groups mentioned were the Reformed Jewish Movement, and the Homosexuals, and the Hassidic Jewish Movements that in today are already included and considered Orthodox. The so called “Messianic Jews” were not mentioned, but one of the speakers on the Radio mentioned that groups that were excluded in the past, groups who are Jewish, when excluded became hostile enemies to Israel. It was clear that the speaker was hinting that Christianity started as an internal Jewish Movement and being excluded became one of Judaism’s greater enemies. Everyone who spoke on the Radio was saying very important things about the need for dialogue and discussion that can hear the other sides without rejection.

The bottom line in the discussions this day in Israel is that the unity of the nation of Israel is more important than the particular parts and their differences.

Hearing the speakers on the Radio in Israel made me very happy. Everything begins with discussions and discovery that actually our differences are not really that big, and that with a little love for our fellow man and patience, we can get along and see that our differences are not a good enough reason to hate and exclude and divide the nation.

I was happy on one hand that there is such an awakening in Israel, and that on this historical day of reading the book of Lamentations and fasting and crying for the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of the Temple. On the other hand, my heart was saddened that I don’t see enough discussion and openness among Christians for the unity and the oneness of the Body of the Messiah. I long to see among my Christian brothers and sisters at least the willingness to dialogue and discuss and if necessary argue and debate and seek the restoration of the body of the Messiah formed to be according to God’s original design:

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:4–5 ESV)

Unity does not mean uniformity and it does not mean that everyone must think the same and see everything in the same light as his brother does. It does mean that there is no hate and no enmity and no alienation. It does mean that we cry with each other when it is time to cry and that we rejoice with each other when it is time to rejoice. When it is time to stand for each other and work together for the greater good of the Kingdom of God – we learn to put our differences aside and stand together against our real enemies to fight the good fight of faith with God’s grace and the love of the brethren and truth.

Our History does not paint a pretty picture and today in the Jewish communities around the world people walk with out leather shoes and with sad faces thinking of the anger of God that was kindled by our sins toward each other and toward Him! However, we ought to wake up from learning our history and resolve not to repeat the same mistakes that our forefathers did. We must make positive steps to do better than our forefathers and heal the illnesses of the past with sincere effort to overcome the religious prejudice and the vain hate that caused God’s anger to allow the Romans to destroy our temple and burn the city of Jerusalem. God is returning the Jewish nation back home to Jerusalem and to the Land of Israel which He gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, as an eternal possession. Let us learn to love each other with all the differences and warts that each one of us has because we realize that all are trying to do what is right and good and unite to face the real and true challenges that we face, as Jews and as disciples of Yeshua our Messiah.

It all must start by prayer for the unity of the Body of the Messiah and receiving the grace that passes understanding in preparation of the return of the Messiah and the end of the age.

Joseph Shulam

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