“Therefore I bring charges against you again,”
declares the LORD.
“And I will bring charges against your children’s children.” — Jeremiah 2:9.
At sundown Aug. 10, Jews around the world commemorate Tisha B’Av, a time of mourning that marks the many tragedies that befell the Jewish people throughout history on this particular date. Yet from this time of sorrow comes a ray of hope. This is one of nine devotions from the timeless teachings of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein exploring how we can find comfort in the depths of tragedy and transform darkness into light. To learn more about Tisha B’Av, download a copy of our complimentary Bible Study.
Our Scriptures today are connected to this season of the year — the three-week period of mourning that historically leads up to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. During this three-week period, more Jewish tragedies have occurred than in any other month in the Hebrew Calendar.
For such a punishing time, this month has a most unusual name. It is called the month of Av, which is Hebrew for “father.” This is in order to teach us that all our suffering comes from a place of love. It comes from a Father who deeply loves His children. This is also one of the themes of this reading from the book of Jeremiah.
Chapter two begins first by recalling the loyalty and faithfulness of the Israelites in the desert. However, the rest of the chapter takes a darker twist and lists all the ways that the children of Israel had repaid God’s kindness with betrayal and how they had strayed from God. So God said, “Therefore I bring charges against you again . . . And I will bring charges against your children’s children.”
What was God saying?
God was basically telling His children, “I will not give up on you! I will send prophet after prophet to beseech you to repent. And if you won’t listen, I will send prophets to your children. And if they don’t listen, I’ll try again with your grandchildren.” God, as our loving Father, won’t give up on us and will try everything to get us to repent.
Sometimes, in spite of all of the messages, we still don’t mend our ways. This was the case with the children of Israel who were ultimately sent into exile and the Temple destroyed, but this, too, was out of love – another attempt to move them toward repentance. The Jewish sages teach that Jeremiah accompanied the Israelites all the way to the Euphrates River, at which point he informed them that he was going back to Israel to stay with the few Jews who had remained. The people began to weep inconsolably.
According to Jewish tradition, Jeremiah told them, “I testify in the name of God that if this sincere cry would have transpired moments ago, when we were still in our homeland, the exile would never have come about.” All God wants is one sincere cry – one real attempt to return to Him – and He will save us.
When God sends us troubles, let’s remember that it’s not an act of cruelty, but an act of deep, unfathomable love. God is our loving Father – and He will never give up on His children. That is good news for us all.