BY EDEN FARBER / AJT //

Twenty-two more days! One more week! Just five days!

Eden Farber

Eden Farber

People count down to all sorts of things at this time of year – birthdays, camps, holidays, vacations. Some are very subjective or personal count downs, while others are more universal. And right now, we Jews are at the tail-end of a unique countdown on the Hebrew calendar: the “Three Weeks” leading up to Tisha B’Av (the Ninth of the month of Av), when we commemorate the destruction of both the First and Second temples.

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The feeling of the day is always that of overwhelming loss and intense contemplation. We wonder: What would life be like if we hadn’t lost the temple?

That’s the primary question, certainly. However, the follow-up question – one that is asked often, answered sometimes, though never satisfactorily – is the one I’d like to deal with here.

How do we get back?

The Messianic era is not one we Jews are hesitant to discuss. Everyone has his or her own interpretation of what this time will be like, how we will get there, etc. We sing of the coming of the Messiah, maybe mock it or even deeply philosophize about it; but never do we come to the same conclusion, and never do we solve it.

Still, it seems to me that there is one pattern that emerges from all forms of the Messiah-talk, and it’s one that I deem problematic:

“We are waiting for mashiach.”

What does it mean to wait for this era (or this vision) of a person coming to bring us back to a time of unity among Jews and a Temple lifestyle? This rhetoric of “waiting” brings up an important issue, and one that we need to deeply consider this Tisha B’Av.

After all, when we sit around and wait for something to happen, we’re being passive participants in our lives – not making decisions or changes, but waiting for decisions and changes to make us. “Fatigued,” my friend called it; we were discussing activism, and she just looked at me and said:

“I’m fatigued; I don’t want to try to fix things anymore.”

We’ve become fatigued, or we’ve stopped caring…meaning, inherently, that we’ve stopped thinking.

That’s what we’re missing: The yearning for more, the drive to make an idea a reality. We wait for some higher power to sort out our troubles. But it won’t. They’re called our troubles for a reason.

I say it’s time to stop waiting for “someone else” to sort us out and instead start working together to sort ourselves out. Let’s work to make them make our world a better place.

We’re at the tail end of the “Three Weeks” right now; the midst of the “Nine Days.” We’ve been counting down to the evening of July 15 for quite a while now – some of us limiting our consumption of fancy foods or not listening to live music, and some of us merely noting the calendar. All has been in preparation for this day of solemn contemplation.

I say, this year, let’s give it something more. This Tisha B’Av, I’m not going to ask myself the passive questions of “What are we waiting for?”

No waiting for a savoir to solve all my problems for me; it’s time to take them into my own hands.

I’ll end with a fantastic quote from Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen”:

“[He] sits and waits for Messiah. I’m tired of waiting. Now is the time to bring the Messiah, not wait for him.”

A meaningful, inspiring day to all.

Atlanta’s Eden Farber, 16, was recognized in the Jewish Heritage National Poetry Contest of 2010 and has published op-eds and poetry in Modern Hippie Magazine and the NY Jewish Week’s Fresh Ink for Teens section.

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