Tuesday, August 5, 2014
If you were expecting a joke today, we're sorry to disappoint you. You'll have to wait until tomorrow. Today is Tisha B'Av, an annual fast day in Judaism which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of the Jews from the Land of Israel.
The day also commemorates other tragedies which occurred on the same day, including the Roman massacre of over 100,000 Jews at Betar in 132 CE. Instituted by the rabbis of 2nd-century Palestine,
Tisha B'Av is regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, a day in which all pleasurable activity is forbidden, and is marked by synagogue attendance the night before and during the day. But that doesn't mean there's no singing, or more accurately, chanting.
The highlight of the day's service is the chanting of the megillah of Eicha (Lamentations), written by the prophet Jeremiah. Eicha is read in synagogues and in groups meeting indoors and outdoors. The video below shows a reading of the last chapter of Eicha opposite the walls of the Old City and Mt Zion in Jerusalem. It was organized by The Jerusalem Challenge, a group whose goal is to help young Jewish adults to form a personal connection with Jerusalem.
If Eicha's dirge-like melody and mournful lyrics don't speak to you, there's another musical way to get into the mood. Back in 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, singer Don McLean performed his hit song Babylon in front of a live audience and had them singing along with him. The lyrics are just perfect for Tisha B'Av, adapted from Psalm 137 in Tehilim (The Book of Psalms).
By the waters of Babylon
We lay down and wept
And wept for thee Zion.
We remember thee, remember thee
Remember thee Zion.
We'll be back with lighter fare tomorrow.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)