Coinciding Holy Times: Let It Be

Coinciding Holy Times Let it be

Sometimes the Jewish fast day of Shiva Asar B’Tamuz and the Islamic religious period of Ramadan begin around the same time (the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar without a leap year, they some times are in close proximity, but they can also be no where near each other).

Shiva Asar B’Tamuz begins a three week period of mourning in Judaism. These three weeks leads up to Tisha B’Av, another day of fasting as well as prayer and even more intense mourning in Judaism. Tisha B’Av, and these days of mourning that precede Tisha B’Av, commemorate the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem thousands of years ago, but it is also a period of time when Jewish people engage in a type of national spiritual introspection.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a month of fasting and prayer, observed in order for Muslims to get closer to God and to purify themselves. It is an intensely spiritual period in Islam.

According to the Talmud Yoma 9b, the Second Temple was destroyed because of the sin of Sinat Chinam: blind hatred. According to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Pre-State Israel, since it was blind hatred that caused the destruction of the Temple, it is only Ahavat Chinam, blind love that will cause the rebuilding of the Temple, and bring redemption to the world (Orot HaKodesh vol. III, p. 324).

Similarly, Ramadan is a time to focus on loving your fellow human being. This is not the only time when Judaism and Islam and other faiths as well have their holy times coincide. Chanukah sometimes coincides with Christmas. Passover often overlaps with Easter. These holidays have little to nothing in common, but it does give us a moment to pause. Many of us are looking forward to the day when people of all faiths come together. When we are in a period in our different religious calendars when people of various religions find themselves celebrating their own holidays simultaneously, it provides us with an opportunity to think about how to unite people of different faith communities without anyone compromising their religious convictions. With that in mind I would like to make five suggestions:

1. We should all strive to understand each other. Often misconceptions cause conflicts between people of different faiths. Having a greater knowledge of other faith communities could help to breed mutual understanding.

2. When there are issues that create conflicts between different faith communities, it must be understood that violence is never an acceptable way of dealing with these conflicts. All faith communities must repudiate terrorism.

3. Many of our faith communities share a connection to the Tanach, the Bible. In the first book of the Bible, the book of Bereishit, Genesis 1:26, we are taught that all human beings are created in the image of God. If we truly believe in this theological idea than this has to transform the way we look at our fellow human being. It means that we must see the divinity and dignity in every human being, regardless of their faith and regardless of our respective theological disagreements.

4. There is nothing wrong and everything right about passionately believing in one’s faith. However intense ones belief is in one’s own theology, it is in no way a reason to devaluate another faith community. When we disagree we must do so respectfully.

5. At the same time, we should never let pluralism degrade itself into moral relativism. There are things that are objectively wrong, specifically non defensive violence, terrorism hate and prejudice. Different faith communities must stand as one against these ills of our society.

Let us affirm to learn from each other, to respectfully disagree with each other and to love each other. Let it be soon. Let it be today. Let it be this very moment.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree

There will be an answer, let it be

For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be

(Excerpted from the song Let It Be by the Beatles)

The title comes from the song “Let It Be.” “Let It Be” is a song by the Beatles. It was released in March of 1970 as a single. The song was written by Paul McCartney; however it was credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was also the title of the Beatles 12th and last studio album released in May of 1970. The record came out after the Beatles announced their break-up.