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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tisha B'Av: Messianic hope

Jerusalem Temple Destruction (Hayez)
Although Tisha B’Av has been traditionally associated with many of the worst calamities in Jewish history (sins of the scouts of Moses, destruction of the First and Second Temples, destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt, the First Crusade, the expelling of Jews from England and Spain, and the Holocaust) - from out of the depths of this despair springs hope eternal. 

That is because Tisha B’Av has also been linked with the arrival of the Jewish Messiah.  The Hebrew words for “Messiah” (moshiah, moshiach, mashiahand mashiach) each mean “anointed [one]” – and often described kings and priests who were anointed with the type of oil described in Exodus 30:25 (a
“fragrant blend” of liquid myrrh, cinnamon, cane, cassia, and olive oil).  For example, the Bible refers to Cyrus the Great of Persia as “God’s anointed.”

The Orthodox Jewish term “Messiah” often refers specifically to a patrilineal descendant of the King
David/Solomon lineage “who will gather the Jews back into the land of Israel, usher in an era of peace, build the Third Temple, have a male heir and reinstitute the Sanhedrin, among other things.”  Wikipedia reports that many details concerning the advent of the Messiah can be found in the Talmud, which “describes a period of freedom and peace, which will be the time of ultimate goodness for the Jews and for all mankind.”

There are some Conservative Jews who already commemorate the establishment of the State of Israel as a Messianic sign.  They are prone to advise that Tisha B’Av fasting be ended at midday.  Others continue to fast all day while awaiting the Messiah’s complete arrival.  They, along with Maimonides and Habakkuk, proclaim:  Though he linger, wait for him; he will certainly come and will not delay.   


Copyright July 19, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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