Isn't this kind of perpetual punishment un-Jewish?


After reading 'What happened on the Ninth of Av?' on I find it somewhat "un-Jewish" to imagine that God would curse us and inflict pain upon us each 9th of Av. Feels very superstitious and doesn't feel like it supports this overall notion of improving the world. I can understand having a day to commemorate such calamities, but it seems odd that we can't overcome the bad juju of the day because of the act of the spies and the response to their false report. 

In other instances where God wasn't happy with us, he didn't curse us in this way (e.g., waking up late to receive the Torah; worshiping the Golden Calf; even all the sins of our forefathers like when Moses struck the rock or Solomon did what he did resulting in the splitting of the kingdom). Why all of a sudden with this curse that stretches through generations?


Time has memory and so any event on any given day in the calendar at any point in history are forever imprinted on that day, becoming part of the "DNA," if you will, of that marker on the calendar. This is the source for celebrating our birthdays or any other anniversary or any Jewish holiday for that matter. It's not merely a commemoration of an event that was, but rather a celebration and tapping into a reality that is being relived. 

Our sages teach us that, "One who reads the Megillah (of Purim) backward (meaning out of its written order), does not fulfill his obligation." Chasidus teaches that to mean that anybody who reads the story "backward" - as history, as a thing of the past - does not get it and therefore hasn't fulfilled their obligation to hear the reading. One must live with it and realize that every generation has a Haman and an Achashverosh, every generation has a Mordechai and an Esther. Every generation a Hitler; every generation a Rebbe. In every generation they rise to annihilate us, and in every generation Hashem brings us salvation and delivery. Same page, different stage.

The idea is not that G-d is cursing and afflicting us, but rather that the day itself carries with it a negative energy and power, having been set originally by our misdeed, but not as a recurring punishment for them. When Haman plotted his final solution he chose the day of Moses' passing as the day to implement his plan because he figured, not unreasonably, that the day the Jewish people lost their shepherd would be a day of weakness for the Jews. (Of course, he failed to note that Moshe's day of passing was also his day of birth.)

Also, like Haman's thinking, many of our enemies throughout history have used Jewish fast days as an opportune moment to launch their attacks, as the Egyptians launched their "surprise" attack on Israel in 1973 in what became the Yom Kippur War. And so this day may have become a day of such tragedies not of G-d's choosing, but of our enemies choosing. If they're going to plot and succeed, they argue, they have a better chance on the same day as their predecessors succeeded.

Also they know that the supernatural staying power of the Jew (arguably another source for anti-Semitism) comes from our attachment to our source and our well-being dependent on our fulfillment of our purpose here on earth. And so by selecting a day on which we veered from that they are hoping that our lifeline is weak and that we'd be more susceptible to attack. 

As far as overcoming it, of course we can. We are not bound by the constellations or the patterns set in motion, no matter how powerful. But it requires resolve. In fact, all such days on the Hebrew calendar are days in which will be utterly transformed from days of darkness and mourning into days of light and rejoicing.

And so your intuition was spot on: Eternal damnation or anything of the sort is "un-Jewish." Transformation, renewal, and the ability for Teshuva and rebirth, that is Jewish.

Indeed, the Talmud teaches us that Moshiach is born on the 9th of Av. That the redeemer emerges from the destruction; the cure created before the disease. The day itself has great redemptive powers and it's up to us to study beneath the surface of the overt mourning to understand and see the deeper themes and tap into the true potential of the day, which is one of personal, communal and global redemption and one of true and complete transformation of the darkness itself into light. That the darkness itself will shine forth light. And may it be speedily in our days!


Incredible response. Yeah totally makes sense. What I had read really bothered me, and it was on since that's really my main go-to place. But you're right they may be suffering from causality issues. To say Tisha B'Av is a day of misfortune seems much more connected to the rational reason you provide as stemming from the very real situation of collective mourning and physical/spiritual engagement of a people as well as an enemy's potential desire to hit them on these anniversaries, rather than from a "curse" God has laid upon us for that day. I just know that when I was reading it as a curse sort of situation, it didn't sit well with me, in that it just didn't feel like that was a "Jewish thing" from everything I've learned through you and others. Thanks for clarifying.