Monday, July 23, 2007

Appropriate Reading for Tisha B'Av?

In a post last week, R. Dov Krulwich offered some recommended reading for Tisha B'Av (link):

  • Adjusting Sights by R. Haim Sabato about his experiences in the Yom Kippur War

  • Life in the Shadow of Terror by R. Nechemiah Coopersmith with personal accounts about life in Jerusalem during the recent Intifida

  • O Jerusalem by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre about the 1948 war of Israeli independence

In the comments section, R. Krulwich adds:
My post about recommending alternative reading is for people who for whatever reason do not find the more traditional reading inspiring. For example, many people nowadays devote the day to movies about the holocaust. Devoting some time to truly understanding the fear and pain of Israel's recent wars and terror attacks seems to me to be an equally appropriate endeavor.
I'm of two minds over whether all of his suggestions are appropriate for Tisha B'Av. I can see how Life in the Shadow of Terror is appropriate because it deals with the travails of exile, or rather the lack of complete redemption. That is certainly in the spirit of Tisha B'Av. But the other two books, particularly O Jerusalem, are more about the end of the exile than the exile itself. They are not about be-tzeisi mi-Yerushalayim but about be-shuvi li-Yerushalayim. Is that what we should be spending our time focusing on during Tisha B'Av? Or is it really distracting from the message of exile and turmoil? I can hear both sides. Perhaps they are only appropriate reading for the afternoon of Tisha B'Av. But certainly they are better than just wasting the day.

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