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The Fern Sidman Commentaries:
August 4th, 2006: "LET US REMEMBER..."

Tisha B’Av (the 9th day in the month of Av) is now over. Every year on this date, the Jewish people commemorate all the horrific and painful tragedies that have befallen us as a people since the beginning of time. We fast and mourn and pray with fervor to the Almighty G-d of Israel that He deliver us from the nightmare of the exile, return us to our homeland so that we may witness the coming of our righteous Messiah and the rebuilding of our Holy Temple.

We recite the book of Eicha (Lamentations) which graphically descirbes the destruction of Jerusalem and the agony and humiliation that the Jewish people endured. It is a painful book to read, one that evokes horrifying memories of not only the distant past but of events that are ancestors lived through.

A few examples of the devastation, death and destruction that was wrought on this day are as follows:

On the 9th of Av, Moses broke the first tablets of Law when he came down from Sinai to find the people worshipping the golden calf.

Solomon’s Temple (the First Temple) was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BCE, under the rulership of Nebuchadnezzar.

The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, under the leadership of Titus.

In 135 CE, the final destruction of Bar Kochba’s army after his last fortress, Betar, fell. Jerusalem was ploughed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and thus became a Roman city.

In 1290 CE, King Edward 1st of England signed an edict expelling all Jews from England.

In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain.

World War 1 began on the 9th of Av.

Himler presented his plan to the Nazi Party on the “Final Solution” to the Jewish problem, July 31, 1940 - Tisha B’Av.

One year later to the day, Himler’s "Plan" was formerly implemented.

The beginning of Nazi deportations of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, 1942.

And now, on this ninth day in the month of Av in the year 2006, Israel is yet again subjected to a barbaric enemy that seeks to eradicate its existence. It has been reported that today, Aug 3, 2006, Tisha B’Av on the Jewish calendar saw, "the deadliest day yet for the Jewish state in its two-front war." (Fox News, 8/3/06). This is of no coincidence.

Today four Israeli soldiers were killed in battle with Hezbollah guerillas in southern Lebanon and eight civilians were murdered by Katyusha rockets fired at the northern Israeli cities of Acre and Maalot. Today twelve lives were taken from us. Today, young Jews defending their country from terrorists were ripped from our bosom. They are not just statistics in the mounting death rate or faceless beings. They are our sons and brothers. They are young boys who will not live to marry and raise another generation. They are: Sergeant Andrei Brudner, 18, from Rishon L’Tzion, Sergeant Itamar Tsur, 19, from Be’er Tuvia, Sergeant Alon Fintuch, 19, from Kiryat Yam and Sergeant Yonatan Sharabi, 19, from Petach Tivkah.

Today we witnessed a funeral of a young American Jewish soldier. Michael Levin, a 22-year-old Israeli soldier who grew up in Philadelphia, was laid to rest at Mount Herzl (Jerusalem’s military cemetery). First Sgt. Levin was one of three Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers killed Tuesday when his platoon was hit by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile in Aita al-Shaab, a southern Lebanese town one kilometer (0.62 miles) away from the border with Israel, near Moshav Zarit.

Levin immigrated to Israel at the age of 18 after graduating from Council Rock High School in Bucks County, Mass. in 2002. He briefly studied on Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, located along the Jordan River south of Bet She’an, prior to joining the IDF. After his time at the kibbutz, Levin joined the IDF as a paratrooper. He was recently granted special permission from the army to go on temporary leave and visit his family in the United States. While there, news that war had broken out on the northern border prompted Levin to cut his vacation short to join up with his unit in Lebanon.

Each of these fallen soldiers has his own story. Each one can never be forgotten as a hero to his people and his nation. On this ninth day in the month of Av, this day of mourning, this day of tragedy and torment, we must add the names of these brave and courageous souls to those who we will mourn for.

We must also remember the names and stories of those civilians who were murdered on this ninth of Av. They are: Shimon Zaribi, 44, from Akko, Mazal Zaribi, 15, (Shimon’s daughter), Albert Ben-Abu, 41 from Akko, Aryeh Tamam, from Akko and Tiran Tamam (Aryeh’s brother).

We must remember these precious souls. A father and his daughter killed on the same day and two brothers. We must remember them and the families who grieve and mourn and suffer in silence. Our compassion and mercy must be aroused and our tears flow freely. The nation of Israel will never forget that these souls were taken on this most ominous day in Jewish history.

In Maalot, three Israeli Arabs from the village of Tarshiha were riding in a car when rockets started falling. They are: Sinati Sinati, 18, from Maalot, Amir Naeem, 18, from Maalot and Muhammad Faour, 18, from Maalot.

And let us remember today’s wounded. According to Arutz Sheva news service, "Reports from northern area hospitals state 47 people wounded in rocket attacks remain hospitalized in Nahariya Hospital and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. One of the victims is listed in critical condition, 14 serious and the remainder light and light-to-moderate."

And to those who will say that this bloodiest day thus far in the battle for Israel’s survival is just a coincidence, we must ask why this death and carange did not happen yesterday or a week ago. For those who have eyes to see and ears to listen with, we must know that events such as this horrific one did not happen on this particular day for no reason. We must know that this a reminder from the Almighty G-d of Israel. A reminder that we must mourn and repent and come closer to the G-d that will deliver us from our enemies, if we only allow Him to. If we only recognize His dominion and His sovereignty in this world.

This war is far from over. Our victory or defeat will not be inextricably tied to our military technology, superiority or strength.. Wars in the nation of Israel are not won because we know how to fly planes or shoot missiles. We have the physical tools to go into battle with. Our ultimate victory or defeat will depend on our stalwart faith and trust in the Almighty G-d of Israel. The ultimate outcome will depend on our resolve to defeat our enemy and our determination to fear only G-d and not mortal man.

Through the vehicle of prayer, repentance and charity we can arouse the infinite mercy and compassion of the Creator of the Universe. Let us be resolved to intensify our prayers and to remember that we are never alone. If we will have the strength to defeat our enemy and display no fear, the Almighty will be at our side.

There is a passage in the Talmud, in the tractate Sotah that describes the period that will precede the coming of Messiah. The Galil will be under heavy attack, it states, - so even in our pain, there is a measure of comfort in the knowledge that HaShem is above us, and in the end, our redemption will come.

May it be the will of G-d that this be the very last Tisha B’Av. May it be His will that this day be trasnsformed into a day of joy, a festive holiday. And may we merit to see the final redemption speedily in our days.

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