Moses is 120 years old when, in this week’s Torah portion, Va’etchanan, he recalls his recent request of God: “I pleaded with the Eternal at that time, saying, ‘O Eternal God, You who let your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand, You whose powerful deeds no god in heaven or on earth can equal! Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country, and the Lebanon’ ” (Deuteronomy 3:23-25).
"Yonah has a question and I thought that you would have the answer." This was the father's sentence that broke the silence of my learning in the empty beit midrash in Jerusalem some five summers ago.
Thursday was Tisha B'av -- the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av -- the day on which we fast, pray and commemorate the tragedy of our people's past. According to tradition, many of the worst catastrophes to befall the Jewish people took place on Tisha B'av: The destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem, the Crusades, the expulsion from Spain, the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto. All of it -- all of the pain and the shame of the past tragedies -- comes crashing down upon us each Tisha B'av.