All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Sunday, 14 August 2005

The Fast

I'm twenty hours into the fast and feeling OK. Yes, my stomach is grumbling, my knees are shakier than they were this time yesterday and my head feels somewhat heavier - but I'm alright.

They say that fasting is good for the soul and I can surely testify to this. After nearly a day of not eating, I feel very humble and in myself, closer to G-d. I feel that my existence on this earth has more meaning and that, with prayer, I can achieve something.

Before you start worrying, I am not delirious. I know exactly what I'm writing and thinking. This is a critical time for our nation, both within Israel and without. Like everyone else, we face the threat of terrorist attack the minute we leave our homes and it therefore doesn't hurt to use a day like Tisha B'av to reflect on how the world could be a better place, if we only just believed a little more in the power of G-d to sort things out. I don't apologise for getting all religious here -for once I'm leaving behind my physical needs and letting my soul speak out.

In past years, I've found the fast extremely difficult, not least because the weather was so hot. This year, with the fast falling a month or so later (I won't go into the whole Jewish Lunar Calendar thing) and therefore finishing an hour earlier than usual, I find it more bearable. Additionally, it's rained for most of the day and so the air is nice and cool.

However, unlike those other years, I won't get that feeling of elation when the fast ends. In short, I'm too concerned about how the Gaza thing is going to pan out over the next few days and months.

One can tell that on this Tisha B'av, our minds are concentrated less on the past and more on the immediate future. Yes, we have our own country again and that is miraculous, but this year, in Israel, there seems to be so much hatred between Jew and Jew. Can we really proclaim the end of the fast to be a success if tomorrow the Jews in Gaza physically attack one another?
Remember that with the destruction of the 2nd Temple (due to infighting) , we failed in our last attempt to run our own country. We cannot afford to make the same mistake, nearly two millennia down the line.

I therefore pray that something miraculous will happen that will reunite us once again. I don't mean a return to Gaza, because that wouldn't be the answer but an event, so spectacular and unexpected that it manages to reunite the Jews and bring real peace to our world. Am I asking for the coming of the Messiah? Yes - but failing that, maybe G-d has something else up His sleeve to turn the world around yet again.

Enough blood on all sides. Let's have some miracles around here please, because we really really need some Divine help right now and that's the prayer I make on this tragic but strangely inspirational day.

The fast finishes in about three-and-a-half hours.
Suddenly, I'm not that hungry.

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