Skip to main content

"Pour out my heart like water" – thoughts for Tisha b’Av 5775


Sitting here in Toronto, the big difference between Israel and the world I grew up in is obvious.  I heard this in a shiur yesterday from Rabbanit Chana Henkin, who said, "There's nothing like water to emphasize the difference between inside and outside Israel."

Toronto, in particular, is a deliciously watery place.  Perched on the brink of Lake Ontario, nestled between two (kinda, used-to-be) mighty rivers. 


The water here makes me happy.  Sort of.

But you know where else had a lot of water?

Babylon.  (Again, this is not my idea, it’s Rabbanit Henkin’s; I just wrote it down.)

Babylon was built between two rushing rivers.  Israel has nothing at all like it, and didn't in the time of the Tanach, either.


When the Jews left Israel in exile in 607 BCE, they wrote in Tehillim (137:1 & 4),

עַל נַהֲרוֹת, בָּבֶל--שָׁם יָשַׁבְנוּ, גַּם-בָּכִינוּ:    בְּזָכְרֵנוּ, אֶת-צִיּוֹן.
By the rivers of Bavel, there we sat, we also wept, when we remembered Tzion.

אֵיךְ--נָשִׁיר אֶת-שִׁיר-יְהוָה:    עַל, אַדְמַת נֵכָר.
How can we sing Hashem's song on foreign soil?


There in Bavel, we were surrounded by water, just as I am here in beautiful, green, southern Ontario.  But we knew, felt deeply, that we were far from home.

Here in Canada, the Jewish community is wealthy, comfortable.  Their homes are large and safe; their yards and gardens and children and yeshivas bloom and thrive.

Yet here, I am uneasy.

Here in Canada, when Shabbos ends, I'll head to shul to hear Megillas Eichah.  It’s too easy to say I’m in the wrong place, on the wrong continent.

Even if we were in Israel, it would be the wrong place, the wrong time – mourning in the midst of a nation not yet redeemed.

Our shul here – a spiritual home away from home – does a candlelit kumsitz the night of Tisha b’Av which is almost-but-not-quite enjoyable.  It is truly beautiful.  In the afternoon, there are videos, phone calls to Jewish communities around the world.  We will hear about the Har Nof massacre.  We will weep with Jews elsewhere.

They do their best to make Tisha b’Av a day not just about “when are we gonna eat?” but about growth as individuals and as a community.

Still.  The rabbinically-condoned distractions help pass the time, but I cannot imagine actually enjoying the day.

In Megillas Eichah (2:19), we will read this year, as we have so many times before,

שִׁפְכִי כַמַּיִם לִבֵּךְ, נֹכַח פְּנֵי ה
Pour out your heart like water before the face of Hashem.

All of this beautiful fresh water surrounds us here in Canada, greening the place to within an inch of its life.  And I feel keenly every moment I’m not sweating that I’m not in Israel.

But even in Israel, we are not yet in Israel.

Unless we in exile pour out our hearts, struggling to connect Tisha b'Av with our true home in eretz Yisrael, doing all we can to return, it's meaningless - delicious water spilled on hard, unyielding ground.

How can we sing the song of Hashem here in exile?

We can't.

At the end of Eicha (5:21), we will read:

הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ יְהוָה אֵלֶיךָ ונשוב וְנָשׁוּבָה, חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כְּקֶדֶם
Return us back to you, Hashem, and we'll come back.  Renew our days as they were before.

Just give us a nudge, Hashem, and we'll be there.

Wonderful, holy Jews, pour out your hearts so that Hashem can heal us, repair us, return us, back to the place we truly belong.

May this be our last Tisha b'Av in galus.

(More about Tisha b’Av?  Try the Tisha b’Av FAQ!)

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


Popular posts from this blog

לימודי קודש/Limudei Kodesh Copywork & Activity Printables

Welcome to my Limudei Kodesh / Jewish Studies copywork and activity printables page.  As of June 2013, I am slowly but surely moving all my printables over to 4shared because Google Docs / Drive is just too flaky for me. What you’ll find here: Weekly Parsha Copywork More Parsha Activities More Chumash / Tanach Activities Yom Tov Copywork & Activities Tefillah Copywork Pirkei Avos / Pirkei Avot Jewish Preschool Resources Other printables! For General Studies printables and activities, including Hebrew-English science resources and more, click here . For Miscellaneous homeschool helps and printables, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you just want to say Thank You, here’s a

Hebrew/ עברית & English General Studies Printables

For Jewish Studies, including weekly parsha resources and copywork, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you enjoy these resources, please consider buying my weekly parsha book, The Family Torah :  the story of the Torah, written to be read aloud – or any of my other wonderful Jewish books for kids and families . English Worksheets & Printables: (For Hebrew, click here ) Science :  Plants, Animals, Human Body Math   Ambleside :  Composers, Artists History Geography Language & Literature     Science General Poems for Elemental Science .  Original Poems written by ME, because the ones that came with Elemental Science were so awful.  Three pages are included:  one page with two po

It's Heart Month: 3 days left to save lives!

Dear Friends & Family: Hi, everybody! Sorry I can’t stop by in person... you're a bit out of my area.  :-) We’re out walking up and down on our street on this beautiful afternoon to raise money for Heart & Stroke.  This cause is important to me (I won't say it's close to my heart , because that would be tacky!).  I hope you'll join me by donating online. Growing up, I watched as every single one of my grandparents' lives were shortened by heart disease and strokes, and my father had a defibrillator that saved his life on more than one occasion.  Heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 Canadians and are the #1 killer of women. Please click this link to be redirected to my main page at the Heart & Stroke website: Thus ends my personal appeal.  Official information follows.  :-))) ----- Heart disease and stroke is the #1 killer of women - taking more women's lives than all forms of cancer combined. But no one is immune. Th