It’s Tisha B’av morning and I’m sitting on a bus rumbling through the city on my way to work. Sudden tears prick my eyes and I struggle to swallow them back, feeling lost amongst the chatter filling the bus and cheerful sunshine streaming through the window. Tisha B’av. The worst, saddest, most brutal day on our calendar. I focus my gaze out on the busy, bustling street, determined to keep my tears at bay, wondering why I feel Tisha B’av so strongly, so deeply, so emotionally this year.
The bus announces the next stop: Tachana Merkazit – Be’er Sheva. People gather their things and rush off on their way as another stream of people climb on, find seats, chat about the weather, their families. I press a hand to my eyes and think about my brothers and sisters in nearby communities who’ve spent Shabbat in bomb shelters as sirens wailed and the Iron Dome snatched rockets out of the sky with a thunderous clap.
Iriyat Be’er Sheva. I peer out the window, I see soldiers laughing, parents pushing strollers, people rushing towards the Iriyah -municipality- on their way to work or to an appointment. A lump grows in my throat as I lament about how far we’ve sunk, how clueless are we, to laugh and chatter on the day our nation experienced the cruelest of events. The bus lumbers forward and I think, on this day, thousands of years ago, how many people suffered on this very land, on this very street, starving, beaten, somehow not yet dead.
Merkaz Refui Soroka. The bus sputters to a stop in front of our local hospital, a place of sickness and death, yet also of healing, of birth, of miracles, and a strange pride fills me, pushing away some of the overwhelming anguish. We are a nation of stubborn, pushy, strong, determined people. Destroy our Beit HaMikdash? Crush us to the ground? Chase us from our Land? We might seem broken, we might seem defeated, but this is not the end.
We will be back.
It might take hundreds or thousands of years, but we will march back here, we will build schools and synagogues and houses and hospitals. On this Land, on our Land, we will eat and laugh and chat about our families. We will fill park benches and buses and cities with our people who have returned to live, to breathe, to yearn every day for the complete rebuilding of Israel with the revelation of the Geula Shleima. For this I cry, for this I hope, as I sit on the bus rumbling through my city.