Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Repetition of History & Tisha b'Av

Tisha b'Av is coming -- can you feel it? I can. I can't stop thinking about it. It seems like such an obnoxious holiday, coming right in the midst of summertime, laying its laws upon us and expecting us to start feeling something, to start preparing for the High Holidays, to repent.
“There are others days on which all Israel fasts because of the tragedies that occurred on these dates. This is in order to move the hearts of the people and to open the road to repentance. And this is a memorial to our evil actions and the actions of our ancestors that were like our current behaviors to the point that these behaviors have brought these sorrows upon us and our ancestors. Through the recollection of these matters we will repent as it says: And they will confess their iniquities and the iniquities of their ancestors.” (Maimonides, Mishne Torah, Laws of Fasts 5:1)
And so Tisha b'Av is the culmination of all of these fast days. Rambam is saying, in a nutshell, that if we do not learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Because we continue to observe these fasts, it seems that we still have not learned from history, from our ancestors. 

When will we be at peace with our history and our actions? When will we stop rinsing and repeating past misdeeds? What does it take to achieve that space of mind and place of body?

A popular quote that has been attributed to Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin but yet cannot be verified can offer insight, I think.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Let's pull ourselves out of the straight jacket already. Mashiach is expecting it of us, we ought to expect it of ourselves.