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    Praying without an umbrella

    Soon we will mark the fast of Tishah B’Av. If it were like any other great day in the calendar we would be out shopping.

    For Pesach we buy Haggadot and restock our whole kitchens. For Shavu’ot we purchase dairy foods. For Sukkot it is Arba’ah Minim and items for the sukkah. Add Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Purim and Chanukah to the list and we never seem to be free of preparations for the next calendrical occasion.

    But Tishah B’Av? You might think that we would all be ransacking the bookshops for beautifully bound copies of Megillat Echah… but you’d be wrong. You might also think that the synagogues would be making sure that they had a nicely written parchment scroll, but there too you’d be wrong.

    Echah is read from a paper-bound printed text, sometimes hastily or shoddily produced as if it would be unlikely to be used again. There are printed editions with translation and commentary, but no-one suggests that Tishah B’Av is impossible without them. The whole idea of the day is that by next year, please God, the Mashi’ach will have come and the fast will be unnecessary.

    To use a beautiful scroll of Echah or insist that everyone buy a library edition almost suggests that we don’t have faith. It is like the community that assembled in the town square to pray for rain but when the rabbi looked at the crowd he cancelled the prayers because no-one had brought an umbrella.

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