Monday, August 02, 2004

slightly revised again

Very little annoys me more than when an RN who was born on third base denigrates a Jew who is still holding at first. It's even worse when the smug RN gets it backwards, when the RN is so far behind he thinks he is ahead. I'll let you decide which case is described below.

Last week, a few Jews at the Democratic National Convention observed Tisha B'av by sitting on the floor and reading Eicha (and yes, they performed these observances immediately after Bill Clinton's speech, but this blog is not about obvious jokes.) You can read about Tisha B'Av at the convention here.

My friend, the Grinch, deeemed their behavior fantastically inappropriate. He writes:
"What were they doing at the convention on Tisha B'av? And not only did they go to the convention, they held the services there. In my mind, they have desecrated Tisha B'av, and they have desecrated the service.

Two words: Dude, chill.

Let's not argue over whether or not these Jews belonged at the convention on 9 Av. Yes, the Rabbis told us to avoid festive activities on and around the day the Temple burned, (pace Yuter) but the Rabbis created exceptions. We're allowed to work on Tisha B'av if we must, for instance. Do the exceptions apply here? Ask a rav, and, because it relates to Tisha B'av, do the right thing and assume the Jewish convention delegates did, too.

The real point, however, Mr. Grinch, is this: Even if the exceptions don't apply to the Democratic National Convention, even if going to the convention was not in keeping with the spirit of 9 AV, you still can't convince me that it was disgraceful to hold an Eicha service on the convention floor.

Do the sages prohibit reading Eicha in public? No. Did the Convention band back-up the reader with show-tunes? No. Were confetti and balloons falling as the mournful, 3000 year old words of Jeremiah were read? No. Did the Jewish delegates behave in bad faith? Was there anything disrespectful about the service? Was it a mockery? No, no, and no again. They sat on the floor as Jews have for millennium and cried for Zion. So would you please cut them some slack? On the floor of a convention assembled to help decide who, for the next four years, will be the most powerful person on planet Earth, a group of Jews paused to remember Jerusalem, to honor Jewish memory and to pay respects to the Jewish God.

And unlike the RN's, the Jewish delegates, I'm betting, aren't the sort of Jews who were raised to consider Eicha non-negotiable. For them, Eicha at the convention was something extra, something that went beyond what they were taught was necessary.

Aren't these all good reasons to say ata echad v'shimcha echad u'mee k'amcha yisroel / You are one, and your name is one, and who is like your nation Israel?

Disgraceful? A few more "disgraces" of this kind and perhaps the great trumpet will finally sound.

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