Tisha B’Av and the Physician’s Advice

We have a disease. For two thousand years, most of mankind has ignored the sickness’ biggest symptoms. Thankfully, Yeshua has provided the cure.


Cheshbon Nefesh, Jewish CustomsAug 10, 2016

Jewish CustomsAug 10, 2016


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There was once a patient who had a disease. Because of his pride and the busyness of his life, he ignored the symptoms and waited for the problem to fix itself.

To his credit, he did pray often for the healing of his body. Through the years the disease spread. It caused his own body to fight against itself. His body was failing due to its own disunity.

It didn’t have to be this way. Before the disease took hold, his physician saw the signs and told him exactly what would happen. He told the patient exactly how his health would decline and for what symptoms he should be looking. He instructed the patient regarding the steps he should take to prevent the disease from spreading and how to reverse its effects if it did spread.

We have a disease. For two thousand years, most of mankind has ignored the sickness’ biggest symptoms.

What happened two millennia ago? Ask a Jew and they will tell you. On the ninth day of the month of Av (Tisha B’Av), 70 CE, the world lost the Holy Temple. In fact, almost seven hundred years earlier, the First Temple was lost on this day as well. The Holy Temple was meant to be the house of prayer for all nations, but now not one stone of it rests upon another, as our Master predicted.

What destroyed it? It wasn’t Rome, as if Rome could defeat the armies of the LORD, God forbid. Our physician warned us that this day would come if we continued in the hatred of our fellowman. The sages of Israel gave their opinion, agreeing that baseless hatred is the cause of the destruction of the second Holy Temple [1] and the current exile in which Israel and the whole world finds itself.

Without the Messiah ruling from an earthly throne, and without a Temple standing upon the Temple Mount we are missing out on an even deeper connection with the Almighty and true unity between all mankind. These are the times our Master foresaw and over which he wept. If we claim to love him, our hearts should break for what breaks his heart.

Mourning into Joy

When we fast, abstain from pleasure, and observe other mourning rituals for the entire day of the Ninth of Av, we in Messianic Judaism join ourselves not only to the rest of Israel, but also to our Master in his longing to reestablish the connection between Heaven and earth that once existed and will again exist in a tangible way on that small hill in that tiny nation.

It is good that we mourn now with the hope that this mourning will inspire true repentance within our hearts and be shown outward through our lives. The Prophet Isaiah said, “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her” (Isaiah 66:10 ESV). These words were alluded to and elucidated by our teacher in his Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 ESV).

The destruction of the Temple served as collateral in the stead of the destruction of the people. [2] It also was intended as an event so shocking that it would inspire all to come to repentance. To use the cliché, the loss of the Holy Temple was the wake-up call to end all wake-up calls. The event occurred just as Yeshua had said it would and was confirmation of all his teachings to us, just as his resurrection had been.

Our physician Yeshua labored tirelessly during the time that he was given on this earth to provide for us the medicine and the instructions we needed before the sickness fell upon us and forced us deeper into the pit of exile. It was a major turning point in history, but we decided not to heed our doctor’s diagnosis. Instead, we lost—and continue to be without—the deeper connection to and awareness of God that the Temple and the Messiah bring.

The disease hasn’t gone away. It has festered and become scars on the very face of the earth. It has taken countless lives. How many more years must we mourn?

Fixing the Problem

Hopefully this year will bring an end to these mournful days when our Bridegroom will return to us and heal the scar within our hearts and upon Jerusalem. Until then, let us take our doctor’s advice. We must fix the baseless hatred that has broken this world.

In order to bring this reparation, we must identify the opposite of what has gotten us into this current state. If hatred brought upon us the dark night of exile, love will hasten the coming of the day when we will be brought out from it. We counteract baseless hatred with love that is also unmerited.

This is how he loved us: when we had no merit. “But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 ESV). This is the type of baseless love that will ultimately rebuild the Temple and see the return of the Messiah.

How should we love without cause? What did our Master say? “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). The Didache preserves a teaching of the early disciples of Yeshua, which likely finds its roots in the teachings of Yeshua, “Do not hate any human being; but some you are to rebuke, and some you are to pray for, yet some you are to love even more than your own life.” [3]

The Master said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 ESV). This is a Hebrew concept called mesirat nefesh, which means to suppress the desires of one’s own soul. Nefesh means soul or life, so Yeshua’s words are understood through the lens of Jewish thought to mean that the greatest form of love is when one prioritizes his fellowman’s wellbeing above his own desires for self-preservation.

This may mean actually dying for someone else. It could also mean bridling the tongue when words of fire burn to be unleashed. It means staying humble when we know we are in the right or deserve recognition. It means forgiving one who has caused offense toward us. It means giving another the seat of honor or the first place in line. It means giving someone the benefit of the doubt and listening to them before rushing to judgment to satisfy our own ego.

May we merit that we should see in our own lifetimes the peace of the Days of Messiah, when all Israel will ascend together to the courts of the Holy Temple, and all nations will sit at the feet of our Holy Teacher to learn the deep secrets of Torah. In those days we will no longer mourn. As we long for the perfection of those days, our hearts should be crushed when we contrast this broken world with the world as it will be in the kingdom of Messiah. May those days come soon and quickly.

Tzom kal: May you have an easy fast.

Footnotes:

  1. b. Yoma 9b
  2. Midrash Tanchuma 10:9
  3. Didache 2:7 VOD translation
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About the Author: Sheldon Wilson is a Creative Team Assistant for First Fruits of Zion and Vine of David, specializing in editing books and Messiah Journal articles. Research projects include the Messianic Luminaries series and the forthcoming Didache translation and commentary. More articles by Sheldon Wilson

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