Split Apart

A couple of nights ago I was sitting, as is customary for many, on the floor at my synagogue, as we listened to the reading of Eicha, the book of Lamentations. It was the eve of Tisha B’Av, the fast day yesterday when we commemorated the destruction of our temples and the loss of our sovereignty.

After the reading it is customary to recite a few ‘kinot’, medieval poems meant to crystallize and bring insight to the tragedies we read about in Eicha. One of them follows a structure of relating the downfall to the well known imagery of astrological signs. One passage stood out to me. “The twin star (Gemini) seemed split apart because the blood of brothers spilled like water.”

I was struck by this, knowing how the infighting between factions during the uprising against Rome, and in the final stages of the siege of Jerusalem hastened the destruction and exile. And I can see, as many do, the seeming parallels with the divisions we see today, in Israel and elsewhere.

I write this from a very deep place in my heart. We do not have the ‘luxury’ of splitting apart. Our adversaries can sense the weakness that disunity brings and they are always waiting to take advantage of it. They do not slumber. It is more than folly, more than an affront, it is a deadly mistake to give them opportunities to harm the Jewish people through our own inability to be united.

Most of us have had the experience of rupture and discord between family members whom we love. It’s incredibly painful. It often lasts for what seems like millenia. But these ruptures can in time be healed. We take it upon ourselves to bring family together. It may not look or feel exactly the same as it did before, but we all see that it is worth the effort. It’s what we do for family, for our kids, for our future.

There is a tremendous amount of pain and anger to work through in this moment of division. But I for one would rather see tears fall than ‘blood spilled like water’. There is no going back to the internal warfare of the past.

This period after Tisha B’Av is known as a time of consolation and repair. Let us all take heed of it, and work to repair relationships in our families, in our communities, in Israel, and among all of our people. As Israeli songwriter Corinne Allal wrote in another time of protest in Israel. Ein Li Eretz Acheret - I have no other land. I’l paraphrase and say I have no other family. I have no other people.