I wanted to share some thoughts for Tisha B’Av from our friend and teacher Rabbi Rabbi Yaakov Haber. Rabbi Haber’s commentaries and teachings can found at www.torahlab.org.

Tisha B’Av is Today! – Rabbi Yaacov Haber

This past Tuesday night, Erev Tisha B’Av I sat in Kennedy Airport waiting to go home.

I was surrounded by anti-Semitism. The television in the airport lobby was running a special by CNN about how anti-Semitism may be influencing the opinion of world leaders on the tragic war in Israel.

The front page of the New York Times had what sounded like a Talmudic discussion as to whether Mel Gibson is actually an anti-Semite or if he was just temporarily possessed by some demon.

On my laptop I watched clips from Al-Jazeera which depicted the Israeli Army as SS Officers as they place a Hitler-like mustache on Olmerts face.

Like all of us, I wonder how the Jewish people, which represent a tiny percentage (0.22%) of the worlds population, and Israel, the size of Vancouver Island and can hardly be found on a map of the world, almost completely dominates the news, the United Nations and the minds of racist leaders!

The same phenomenon was true at the time of the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Nazis and today the Muslims. We are insignificant, yet everyone seems obsessed with us! Why bother hating us? Why bother reporting about us? Why bother ruthlessly rocketing us?

Instinctively, the world must know what many Jews do not realize. Although our numbers are miniscule our spiritual power is so great that there is not a corner of the world that is not influenced by our decisions and our lifestyles. We are the Chosen People.

As a people chosen by G-d we must understand the cosmic influence of our decisions, actions, interactions and even our thoughts.

When the great leader Hillel ushered in a generation of peace and tolerance amongst Jews the Temple was rebuilt by Herod and the entire world changed. This was cause and effect. According to the Talmud, even the weather changed. As we became consumed by politics, intolerance and hate, Jerusalem was destroyed and the entire world was affected negatively.

As I returned to Israel a group asked me if I would present an historical overview of the Kinot on Tisha B’Av morning. I thought to myself, “History? Tisha B’Av is today!”

Today, Tisha B’Av, thousands of Jews are saying Kinot while sitting in bomb shelters. Today, thousands of young men and women are bravely standing in the midst of murderous hostility not knowing from what direction a bullet may come. There are daily funerals in Israel of 18 and 19 year old men that have given up their lives for the holy land and the safety of their brothers.

Everyone wants to know if they do can anything at all to ease the crisis and heal the wounds; not just for our people but of the war and starvation that is permeating the entire world.

The answer is kindness. If we resolve to be accepting, tolerant and kind, if we give each other the benefit of the doubt, if we search for ways to be more peaceful and make peace within our own families and communities, with our chosenness we can cause a sea change. The UN, the terrorists, the position of world leadership, the miracle factor – even the weather will change and we will usher in a new era.

Today, Tisha B’Av can still become a Yom Tov.

About the author

Rabbi Yonah


  • Today is the first time i have ever fasted for Tisha B’Av. I felt that right now, more than anytime in my life, my people and my country are living through their greatest threat. I feel worse than I did in 1991/1992 when scuds fell on Tel-Aviv. Today I read yet another call from the Iranian Presiden Crazy McBeardy call for the destruction of Israel, but this time he said it would be the best solution to the war in Lebanon. But think about this: IF THE ARABS LAID DOWN THEIR WEAPONS THERE WOULD BE NO MORE WAR, IF ISRAEL LAID DOWN HER WEAPONS THEIR WOULD BE NO MORE ISRAEL.

  • A ramble 🙂 : I am sitting in my cabin in the north woods of Maine (hey NYC is > 100F, you expect me to work?). I recently finished a book on Maimonides (Nuland) and think back to seeing his statue in Cordoba and then seeing his tomb in Tiberias – what a long journey! I ponder all the times we left, were kicked out, killed, etc… What it must have been like to pack and go, to see The Temple burn and know it would be tough going, from that moment onward. Then my mind roves to current times and I ponder the difference between history and now- one is sort of murky and idealized, one is my people sleeping in bomb shelters. I have been sitting in near silence all day thinking, observing, hoping for some way out of this, for no more Jews to die, be kicked out, harassed, and so on. For the power once given to our predecessors to be given to the Merkavas and those who man them. I resist the urge to tune out and just read more and more – realizing that there is a place to study and a place for action. But what to do this far away? I am a million times jealous of the photos of the Kotel, wish I were there. I still recall the first time I saw it: I was silent for 4 hours, a rare occurrence! Then my mind comes back to study, because what else can I do, but increase the Jew, simply that the day may come when, as the Rambam put it (and I am paraphrasing): We can be left alone to study in peace.

  • Two questions for you: 1)In what source can it be found that our thoughts influence the world? 2)You mention tolerance twice. What type of tolerance are you speaking of? True tolerance, i.e. “I tolerate what you’re doing but what you’re doing is wrong” or acceptance, i.e. redefining moral absolutes to suit the desires of those who wish not to obey them?

    When people from the States ask me what they can do I tell them to come to Israel.