Monday, September 21, 2009

Tzom Gedaliah: My Unpopular Opinion

Even though this is one of the most overlooked and maligned days in the Jewish calendar, I have to confess that for years I’ve thought of this as one of the most important fasts. Maybe it’s because the philosophical reason (at least as I understood it) has always made the reason for the misery of the day more understandable than any of the fast days. As much as I try to make myself regret the process of losing the Temple, and its actual destruction, I have to admit that I’ve grown used to post-Temple Judaism; meanwhile the rebuilding of Jerusalem has always been a theoretical prospect. And Esther fasted so…why not. But setting aside a day to think about the ways in which we Jews can be our own worst enemy is extremely meaningful. Rav Eitan mentioned that there are Jews who use this day as a way to commemorate the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, which I think is a powerful way to give this day meaning in the contemporary world. But rather than think of this day on a grand political scale, I’ve always stopped to consider the ways in which we show contempt for each other in a thousand ordinary ways, based on what denomination we do or don’t belong to, or how we practice Judaism. To force ourselves to suffer to some extent as we recognize these issues is a powerful statement.

I hope everyone had an easy fast.

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