Jeremiah is the second of ten haftarot in the series; traditionally, three are read on the Sabbaths prior to Tishah B’Av and seven are read on the following Sabbaths.
Broadly speaking, the three haftarot of retribution (also called the three haftarot of affliction) were chosen to represent prophetic visions of the sins of the Hebrews that led to the destruction of the Temple.
The emphasis in this weeks haftorah, as well as the ones that precede and follow it, is not on mourning the destruction of the Temple, but on the actions and beliefs of the people who—from a biblical perspective—violated God’s commands.
The midrash and the examples it presents stress the capacity for self-reflection and self-evaluation, and an acceptance of responsibility for what has gone wrong. Together, the biblical text and its Rabbinic interpretation offer a transformative model for our thinking about Tishah B’Av.
Instead of simply being a day for remembering past losses, Tishah B’Av could be a day that we spend in self-reflection and self-examination regarding (1) the legal, economic, social, moral, and religious issues of our own time, (2) the ways our congregations and communities might measure ourselves and society against our commitments to social justice, and (3) the obligations we have to take responsibility for helping to make this a better world.
To this end, I hope you can us join over shabbat as we mark the arrival of the month of Av and ready ourselves to find personal and communal meaning in the observances that follow.