How we treat each other in all of our relationships is what distinguishes one person from another.  Yesterday Jewish people fasted, remembering destruction in our history because of the disrespect towards our fellow human beings.

Afshine Emrani
The Ten Commandments were written on two tablets: One set of rules govern how we act toward God, the second set how we act toward others both equally important. Too many so-called pious people observe the strict laws of Shabbat and Kashrut etc., but show little concern about how they treat others. They gossip, step over someone who has fallen, create anger and hatred by their actions or words. ‪#‎TishaBAv‬, the destruction of our Temple, we are told by the prophet, did not happen because of our disregard for God, but because of our disregard, our baseless hatred toward Her children. Far more important than praying and observing detailed laws is how we treat others- a simple and vital lesson that’s often ignored.

My mother Irene also had some wisdom about the fast and meaning:

HI Docha, 


I read your blog about Tisha B’Av and the comments. I highly respect the wisdom of our Sages and all the Talmudic commentaries. At the same time, we have to debate it from our modern point of view because we are the nation of Israel (“God-Wrestler”) and have to continue arguing with the text no matter where we are. 
There is a Midrash about Abraham. “Our first Hebrew ancestor, Abraham Ha-Ivri humbly thought that he was a failure because he had to move from place to place throughout his life. At the same time God thought, :”Abraham is soooo good! I want to introduce him to all the nations for them to learn from him.”
We should remember all the struggles and TISHA B’AV tragedies of our ancestors with compassion. The destruction of our First Temple Bet Hamikdash followed by the long years of captivity. After losing our Temple with its sacrifices, Prophets and Leaders of Diaspora invented a new form of Jewish worship – Minyan of 10 men gathered in Knessidas, Synagogues and Shuls three times a day all over the world. 
Jews returned to Judea, rebuilt Jerusalem Temple, restored ancient worship but continued to pray with their Minyans locally. Our legendary Maccabees and members of the Judean Minyans were stronger than Levites and Kohanim; they freed the Temple from invaders and sanctified it again.  
By the time our Second Temple was destroyed, Jews were ready to spread around the world carrying with them Minyan tradition. Portable Religion with indestructible Temple in Time – our Shabbat – was the greatet spiritual invention. 
As devastating it sounded to the Jews of those times, we can clearly see God’s hand in that now. God wanted us to follow the steps of Abraham for bringing the light of progress to all the Humanity. TISHA B’AV signified the Change of Paradigm. 
The same could be said about Adam & Eve. If that first couple of youngsters would follow the Paradise rules and stay in the Garden of Eden indefinitely, there would be no generations and no us. Doesn’t it sound kind of boring? Love, Mom.

We are human on the inside,
We all have different paths to get to the same source,
Lets learn about all the diverse ways to journey,
It may guide you in a direction you never imagined,
We all need each other,
Coach Yulia

As my summer travels draw to a close, I’m reflecting on the Jewish experience I’ve had.

I’ve tried to do as much as I could: I spent Israeli Shabbos with totally secular people (while still being Shabbos observant), Modern Orthodox who are trying to reshape the status quo, Modern Orthodox couple whose wife teaches children to read from the Torah in women’s minyan, a yeshivish couple, a group of only Orthodox girls who had me read kiddush. I hung out with Women of the Wall; I hung out at the Belz shul in Jerusalem. On my first Shabbos back in the US, I stayed with the nicest Hasidic family in the world.

I’ve tried to meet as many different kinds of Jew as possible. Some of the above were Russian, some Mizrachi, some Ashkenazi, some Persian, some Yiddish-speakers. They were at different levels of observance, different levels of knowledge, different levels of attachment.

And I’ve realized one thing: we aren’t THAT different. We say kiddush the same, and we have the same references that pepper our language. We all enjoy shnitzel; we all had mezuzahs on our doors.

But I’ve heard a lot of denigrating talk.

“Those Haredi are the WORST! They have so many children and want to make us all dogmatic and rob us of critical thinking.”
“The secular are a plague. They want to secularize the state of Israel and take away our religion entirely.”

And everyone thinks they’re right. But have you ever heard of aveirah l’shma (a sin for the sake of G-D)? Where you do something knowing it’s wrong but hoping it will bring you closer to G-D?

Now, sometimes this stuff is downright crazy. People do stupid things sometimes. But if you think that talking to secular Jews is a sin, I invite you to maybe engage in conversation with one and invite one to your shul sometime. If you’re Reform/Conservative/Recon/etc and bash on Orthodox Jews (you deny it, but I’ve heard it) maybe take an one out to a kosher restaurant sometime. Maybe afterwards you’ll end up at someone’s house for Shabbos and maybe you’ll see that you’re doing a greater mitzva by singing and davening together than ignoring each other entirely.

Have an easy fast. May we merit to live lives of rejoicing and learning rather than mourning.


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