Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Pleasure of History Podcasts

Every year, during the summer months, there is a three week period on the Jewish calendar that begins with a day fast and ends with a twenty four hour fast. It commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. Other dates such as the start of World War One and the expulsion from Spain fortuitously coincide with the 9th of Av, which is the last day of the Three Weeks, the day on which the Temple was destroyed.

Underlying the sadness of the season is the persistent hope and firm belief that the Temple will be rebuilt, that the nations of the world will achieve peace and unity.

During this time, it is customary to refrain from celebrations and listening to instrumental music. I find that I need this time to reflect not only upon the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash, the Temple but upon the senseless and destructive elements that blight so much of our earthly existence. Withdrawing from music is something I need to do to maintain my balance. Doing so as an observance on the Jewish calender affirms a sense of peoplehood and a historical perspective that is itself consoling.

Every year I switch from music to documentaries, news and other sorts of entertainment during "The Three Weeks". I particularly like history podcasts. This week, I found Historyonair.com, which has amazing podcasts about historical events and figures that can be downloaded and listened to on an MP3 player. Even in a secular context, the idea of studying the lives and lessons of the generations that preceded us lends balance and calm to our lives in the present day. It is for this reason that I am particularly fond during this time on the Jewish calendar not only of Jewish History but any sort of history at all.

I was particularly drawn to an episode titled "The Wickedest City in America", which deals with the history of Phenix City, Alabama, a town of 30,000 which has since lived down its reputation. I will not spoil the suspense of my readers. Suffice it to say that the title is not an exaggeration.

I hope all of my readers will check out Historyonair.com as well as the general genre of history podcasts, whether it is for religious reasons or simply to enjoy a change of pace in the daily routine.

1 comment:

Jason said...

Thanks for the post!
-Jason from History Podcast