Generation to Generation: Teaching Our Children to Always Have Hope
What is the one thing we must teach our children if we want them to never give up and never give in when it comes to their values and beliefs? We must teach them hope. On today’s podcast, host Yael Eckstein shares how an unflagging hope in God’s promises has sustained the Jewish people through exiles and pogroms, persecution and even the Holocaust. Every year, on the Jewish observance of Tisha B’Av, this foundational principle of hope is celebrated as the Jewish people mourn the many tragedies that have befallen them throughout history on this very day. As Yael explains, by teaching our children that the world is not as it should be, we are equipping them to never give up. There is always hope for a better world, a better future. Listen today!
As Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, once wrote, “To be a Jew is to be an agent of hope in a world serially threatened by despair. Judaism is a sustained struggle against the world that is, in the name of the world that could be, should be, but is not yet.”
It is this dichotomy of despair and hope, darkness and light, that is observed every year on Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av and the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.
Both the First and Second Temples were destroyed on Tisha B’Av. With the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE, the Jews of Israel were dispersed to the “four corners of the earth,” setting in motion an exile whose ramifications are still felt today. But those are not the only tragedies that occurred on this date.
On Tisha B’Av in 133 CE, the final Jewish rebellion against the Romans in the Holy Land was squelched and hundreds of Jews were brutally butchered. Exactly one year later, the Temple Mount was razed so that a pagan temple could be erected in its stead. In 1290 on Tisha B’Av, the Jews were expelled from England. In 1492 on Tisha B’Av, the Jews were kicked out of Spain.
Tisha B’Av is a day of fasting and mourning. As Yael Eckstein, President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, explained, “We observe the laws of mourning, including sitting on a low chair, not greeting one another, and not wearing any freshly laundered clothing. In addition, Jewish adults do not eat or drink, engage in marital relations, wear leather shoes, shower, or apply soothing oils. The general atmosphere is somber, and we refrain from any physical activities that give us pleasure.”
However, Yael says, Tisha B’Av is not all about tragedy and mourning. “Through the darkness, there is a ray of light, a glimmer of hope, a glance into the future. As we mourn what we lost in the past, we look toward what God has in store for us in the future.
“All year round, I give my children the tools that they need in order to deal with the difficulties and challenges they face in life,” Yael said. “I teach them resilience, how to find the positive aspects, and to have faith in God and His plans. I teach them to pray to our almighty God and to consider how we might help make the world a better place. On Tisha B’Av, I teach my children an entirely different lesson. I tell them that our broken world is unacceptable. It is not the way God intended our world to be, and it is not the way that things will always be. We can never get used to the way things are or settle for a less-than-perfect world.”
In essence, said Yael, the lesson of Tisha B’Av is hope. “When we teach our children that this isn’t the way the world is supposed to be, we teach them that, indeed, there is always hope; this world will not be always broken. The Temple will be rebuilt, the messiah will come, and our souls will be complete.”
To learn more about this important biblical holiday on the Jewish calendar, visit our Learn Center.