O God, the heathen have come into thy inheritance;

they have defiled thy holy temple;

they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

They have given the bodies of thy servants

to the birds of the air for food,

the flesh of thy saints to the beasts of the earth.

They have poured out their blood like water

round about Jerusalem,

and there was none to bury them.

We have become a taunt to our neighbors,

mocked and derided by those round about us.

Psalm 79, 1-4, RSV

Tisha B’Av does not have quite the significance for this Christian that it has for my Jewish friends at the synagogue and in every part of the globe. For the day, in English the Ninth of A’v, marks the mourning of the Jews as they recall the destruction of the Temple, twice, among the other atrocities that have befallen them, notably the Bar Kochba Rebellion of 135 A.D. and the twentieth-century Holocaust that slaughtered a third of the global Jewish population.

The newly published anthology entitled, “Thinking about Good and Evil: Jewish Views from Antiquity to Modernity”, by Rabbi Wayne Allen, offers an historical survey from the Bible and ancient writings to contemporary Jewish thinkers in addition to opinions on the notion of theodicy itself. The very size and scope of the volume attests to the question persistent in the minds of the children of Israel, “Why?” The 79th Psalm continues, as the Psalms of lament often do:

How long, O Lord? Wilt thou be angry for ever?

Will thy jealous wrath burn like fire?

Pour out thy anger on the nations

that do not know thee,

and on the kingdoms

that do not call on thy name!

For they have devoured Jacob,

and laid waste his habitation.

Do not remember against us the iniquities of our forefathers;

let thy compassion come speedily to meet us,

for we are brought very low.

Vs. 5-8

Tisha B’Av marks times of catastrophe and destruction, even to the slaughter of human flesh. But the questions of theodicy dare to ask if God’s wrath is directed toward the invaders, or to an unfaithful Israel? Although principally a commemoration of sorrow and grief, the observance also serves to remind that even the people of promise dare not make a trial of the God. Patience has limits, even divine patience. The history of man’s inhumanity to man is littered with episodes wherein we interpret the issues presented as political. In some cases that is true, but not all. In our time, the problems are not entirely political, but ethical and moral, not horizontal, but vertical. Divine patience has its limits, America:

We followers of the Prophet Yeshua bar Notzri (Jesus of Nazareth) do well to realize along with the Martin Niemollers and the Dietrich Bonhoeffers of this life that if we ignore the historical lessons and persecutions of the Jews then the persecution of the Christians is not far distant. Perhaps many who name the Name of Jesus might take an accounting of how our own foundations are being destroyed [Psalm 11], and that the enemies of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit seek to overthrow both the Jews and the Christians, along the ‘mixed multitudes’ [Exodus 12:38] who count themselves among our fellow travelers along this journey toward the good, the true, and the beautiful,

Father David+

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