Tisha b'Av is almost upon us -- that painful day when we remember the fall of the first Temple in 586 BCE, and the fall of the second Temple in 70 CE. The anniversary, tradition teaches, of all kinds of other atrocities, from Crusades to the Expulsion from Spain to the Chmielnicki massacre in Poland in the 17th century to the expulsion from the Warsaw Ghetto during the last century.
It's a dark day. It's also a darkness which contains within it the seeds of light and redemption. Tradition teaches that the messiah will be born on the afternoon of Tisha b'Av -- that from the depths of our grief will come the spark of our greatest hopes for transformation and wholeness.
This year I'm delighted to be able to share two versions of a Tisha b'Av liturgy -- a collaboration between myself and Reb David (rabbinic student David Markus) who serves Temple Beth El of City Island. One version will be used at his "shul by the sea;" the other will be used at Congregation Beth Israel here in the Berkshires:
Download For the Sake of Ascent TBE [23 pages, 1.7mb, pdf]
Download For the Sake of Ascent CBI [17 pages, 173k, pdf]
Both versions feature excerpts from Eicha (Lamentations), the prayers of the evening service, and poems by Yehuda Amichai, Toge Sankichi, and Mark Nazimova, among others. Both feature prayers written by David and by me.
The TBE version draws a closer connection to the 9/11 bombings (after all, from City Island they could see the smoke rising); the CBI version draws a closer connection with recent trauma in the Middle East. The TBE version has a few songs which aren't in the CBI version; the CBI version contains a text study which isn't in the TBE version. The CBI version interweaves Eicha with the evening service, while the TBE version doesn't. They're variations on a theme.
I hope that these siddurim will open up some of this holiday's power and potential for the daveners who use them.
Tisha b'Av begins next Monday, August 4, at sundown. (CBI's service will be at 8pm on Monday evening; all are welcome.)