A GUEST POST BY HENOCH:
In consideration of all efforts to create and participate in meaningful programs for Tisha B’Av, it should be noted that in Sefer Zechariah Chapter 7, God's view on this subject is recorded.
Some background information: As the second Temple was being rebuilt, the Jews had been keeping the 4 fast days related to the destruction for the last 70 years. It occurred to residents of Bavel that perhaps these fasts were obsolete. After all, the Temple was being rebuilt, so why would they continue to mourn over its destruction? They assembled a delegation to go to Jerusalem where the halachic question would be brought to the leadership that still included Neviim. The answer given by God through Zechariah Hanavi is quite surprising and would be considered completely inappropriate had anyone else given that answer.
At first the question of whether to fast or not, is ignored. Then Zechariah said in the name of God that when Jews eat at times that they deem appropriate, or fast when they decide to fast, they do so because it is what they think will serve their own interests. It isn’t necessarily for the right reasons. Zechariah essentially states that our idea of fasting misses the mark and even questions its’ sincerity. He then goes further and says in the name of God what would be a more proper approach to the subject. He says that the correct approach to this problem is to
“Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassion every man to his brother and oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.”Being that the Jews ignored these basic ideas, they were exiled and scattered across the world.
Hashem is looking at us and saying, it is quite simple, and it has always been quite simple. I don’t want false piety or even grand programs that are limited to fasting and davening. If you want to do them, that is your decision. But don’t lose sight of what I want. Hashem says “I want honesty, compassion and love”.
Zechariah 7 is a treasure that should be reviewed and internalized in preparation for Tisha B’Av.
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