Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Tisha B'Av

Today is Tisha B'Av. Tisha B'Av, is the ninth day of the month of Av. It is a day of mourning to commemorate the tragedies that have happened on this date, most notabley the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BC, and Second Temple in 70 CE, in Jerusalem.

However, other tragedies have happened on this day...

In the year 1095 the First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II. 10,000 Jews were killed in first month of Crusade. The Crusades brought death and destruction to thousands of Jews, thousands of non-Jews, and totally obliterated many communities in Rhineland and France. In 1492 the Jews were expulsed from Spain as part of the Spanish Inquisition. In 1914, Britian and France declared war on Germany starting the First World War. in 1942, Hitler started the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto and the deportation of Jews to the death camp Treblinka. In 1989 Iraq walked out of talks with Kuwait. And in 1994 the deadly bombing of the AMIA building (the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina) killed 86 people and wounded some 300 others.

Tisha B'Av is the culmination of a three week period of mourning, and it is a fast day. It is a 25 hour fast, one of only two on the Jewish calandar, the other being Yom Kippur. So from sundown last night to sundown tonight, no food, no water, no brushing my teeth, no showering, no leather shoes. Some people refrain from sitting on comfortable chairs and couches, they sleep on the floor, as one would in mourning. All to mourn the loss of the temple.

And I believe in all of this, it is a meaningful day, I, as do many Jews, mourn the loss of the temple, and await the coming of Moshiach. I'm not so sure how I feel about the whole animal sacrifice thing, but I do know that the world will be a much more peaceful, tolerant, happier place to live once Moshiach comes. I like that idea a lot, but that is another discussion for another day. And when Moshiach comes, the Holy Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem.

And I've tried to think about how I feel about the subject, and I've done some reading. One source basically said, that the Temple was one one place in the world where one could feel and see Gds presence and miracles. And after its destruction, it became much harder to feel and see that presence. Now, the small things, keeping Kosher, having Shabbat, lighting candles, going to shul, celebrating holidays, all those little rituals give you Gds presence and spirit. But that's hard in this modern world and so we should strive for those little Jewish miracles in our lives, and we on Tisha B'Av should mourn the loss of the ever present presence and ease in which it could be felt with the Holy Temple.

And I liked that. Because thats how I've been feeling, that its SO HARD for me to keep my Jewishness and observe the rituals that at one point in my life seemed so easy. Now my life is different and there is working on Saturdays, Kashrut though not feeling it, not being able to go to shul as much as I want to, not celebrating holidays in the ways I used to or really want to. These are all decisions and comprimises I've had to make. I couldn't find a job where I could have Saturday's off. So I comprimised, and said ok, I'll work Saturdays, so I could find a job. And I love my job. But i miss my saturdays. I work every other weekend, and the Saturdays I'm off, there are so many other things that need to be done, so i really don't get to shul. I haven't been since Passover! I keep a Kosher home, but it doesn't feel like it because I find it so hard to do anything else Jewish. I feel guilty lighting candles on Friday night if I'm going to be working on Saturday. I often feel as if that presence of Gd is eluding me in my day to day world, when it all used to be so much easier.

And so I fast. I fast even though I'm hungry, and thirsty, and have a headache, and I'm not feeling as Jewish as I once did, and not really so happy about it. I fast to mourn the tragedies of this day but I also fast for that lost spirit that I miss. I pray to regain that spirit, that spirituality, that feeling and presence of Faith and Love and Gd. Whether that be with the coming of Moshiach and the temple, or a resolution in my day to day observance, I hope that this fast brings about Peace and Spirit for me and for the world.

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