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July 26, 2015 / conservadox

Some Tisha’b’Av learning

I spent all day (till 2:30) at one of my new city’s Modern Orthodox shuls (it has about six or seven O shuls of varying degrees of modernity in my neighborhood alone).

Such a difference from last year! Last year I lived in a city with a smaller (and more suburbanized) Jewish community; I missed evening Kinot because I got lost, and went to the city’s only non-Chabad orthodox congregation at 8 am or so.  I figured they would be in the middle of Kinot; instead they were all leaving for work after a minyan and a small number of kinot.  I spent a couple of hours there watching tapes more or less alone, then went to the suburb’s public library till mincha.

This year I am in a city (still not NYC or Philly, but a smaller city with a large Jewish community).  The rabbi spoke a lot between kinot, and said a few things I liked:

1.  Jeremiah was regarded as an “appeaser” and self-hating Jew by the Jewish Establishment- sounds a bit like the way hawks think of doves (though I don’t think this rabbi would say that; my guess is that the congregation is mostly on the right, because it seems like a right-wing modern Orthodox congregation and those shuls tend to be overwhelmingly Republican).

2.  He spoke about the failure of Judah to build on Josiah’s reforms, and on Josiah’s own death (which arose out of foolish meddling in Egypt-Babylon rivalry).  He drew the lesson that no matter how frum you are, the absence of good sense can be dangerous – and more broadly, never assume you are so virtuous as to be beyond ill fortune.

Some things I didn’t like:

1.  He remarked about a midrash on Titus (about him having sex with a prostitute on top of a Torah, or something like that) and defended it by noting that the Nazis might seem so unbelievable that people might think of some Shoah atrocities as midrash.  Big difference: we still have witnesses to the Shoah while midrash was written 400 yrs or so after the Temple’s destruction as far as we know.  (Also, Titus’s Jewish mistress would not have approved).

2. Various stories about Jews praying for each other in different countries, and saying “you can’t prove it didn’t help.”  Well, yes but proving a negative is usually impossible- after all, how can we prove that the Virgin Birth didn’t happen?


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