9th of Av - Update
This week was Tisha B’av (the 9th of Av). The history of the date is a long one and the day is marked in many communities as a Fast Day - on the same level as Yom Kippur (it is a 25 hour fast, no water or food).
Things that occurred on 9th of Av:
The Israelites are in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt, they complain and cry bemoaning the fact that they are not in Egypt - Gd declares that none of that generation will be allowed into the Land on the 9th of Av. Which leads to 40 years of wandering in the desert.
The First Temple is destroyed…as is The Second Temple…on the 9th of Av.
In 1492, the edict of explosion was signed on March 31 by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. The Jews were given four months to leave - the date that no Jew was allowed to remain in Spain? 9th of Av.
Germany declared war on Russia (starting WWI) on the 9th of Av. Many historians have come to the conclusion that WWII and the Holocaust are direct reactions to WWI - therefore the beginning of the worst period in modern Jewish memory also began on the 9th of Av.
Now, with all of this in mind, please know that many progressive Jews do not celebrate Tisha b’Av - and if they do, they do not observe it traditionally. Therefore, while I did understand the significance of the date, I was not planning on fasting. It was only after spending time with my classmates and interns learning about a variety of view points, visiting the Kotel (so many different types of people!) and being enlightened that maybe embracing mizvot when you can is good - and not only accepting a mitzvah upon yourself when you think you can always perform it when necessary. I went to bed thinking that maybe I should acknowledge that this was a date associated with pain for my people - and in the morning I did not eat. I did drink a little water during the day to make sure I did not pass out but I fasted until dinner (not sunset) and realized that it made me think about the importance of the day - the same reason that I fast on Yom Kippur. When you are not thinking about your physical needs (when your next meal is going to be) then you are given the opportunity to put that energy into other things.
I know that I am in a minority in that I am a Reform Jew who believes in a messiah, a messianic age and prays for the Rebuilding of the Temple (the Third Temple Period). I had a few conversations with my classmates about this issue because that is what so many people are praying for when they are mourning the Temples - but I see it differently. For me praying for the Third Temple - and the messianic age - means praying for true peace on Earth. Everlasting peace, true understanding and a place for everyone on this Earth. For me, the tradition that the messiah will be born on Tisha b’Av, be born out of our sorrow, is a beautiful thing. For it is said that the Temples were destroyed because of hateful human behavior, I believe that the Third Temple will only be a reality (whatever that means, because the Third Temple may not be a physical building at all) when we, all of us, are at peace with one another. We have a long way to go, but I follow the Chassidic teaching that every person who performs a mitzvah helps tip the scale in the direction of everlasting peace.
From Mishkan T’filah, A Reform Siddur
give me a quiet heart,
and help me to hear the still,
small voice that speaks within me.
It calls me to come close to You
and to grow in Your likeness.
It teaches me to do my work faithfully,
even when no one’s eye is upon me.
It counsels me to judge others kindly
and to love them freely,
for it persuades me to see divinity
in everyone I meet.
Help me, O G-d,
to come to the end of each day
feeling that I used its gifts wisely
and faced its trials bravely.”
Shavah tov - may you have a blessed week.