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

Friday, 12 August 2005

Some Thoughts

You may be aware that in the Jewish calendar, the new day starts at night. Therefore the Sabbath runs from dusk on Friday night to nightfall on Saturday night. The origins of this lie in Genesis, where the description of each day's creation starts with the words "and it was evening and it was morning on day...."

Why do I mention this? Because tomorrow night, the fast of the ninth of Av begins. As you know, Tisha B'av (Tisha= Ninth B'av= of Av) is the saddest day in our calendar. This year, it has extra meaning because, come Monday, the disengagement from Gaza begins and none of us know what that will lead to.

Tisha B'av is the culmination of the three weeks of mourning. I can literally feel the heaviness in the air. There is a sense of depression that overcomes me, whether or not I observe the strict laws of the nine days to their fullest (e.g. not listening to music, eating meat or drinking wine, washing clothes, taking hot showers, buying new items, shaving/cutting hair.)

So, here I am, on the eve of the fast and feeling pretty despondent. The Sabbath will begin soon and one is not allowed to be sad on this special day, but it's not easy 'switching off'. The fast will begin at 8.27 and end at 9.12 on Sunday night. During that time, I am forbidden from doing five things:

1) Eating or drinking.
2) Wearing leather shoes.
3) Wearing jewelry.
4) Wearing aftershave/perfume.
5) Having marital relations.

You will note that no's 2-4 concern adorning oneself and feeling comfortable, whilst 1 and 5 refer to partaking of physical needs. On this day, we hold loftier ambitions than feeding or pleasuring ourselves.

I have prepared a very special blog for Tisha B'av itself. It is the same one I posted last year on a different site, so I apologise to those who have previously read it. For those who haven't, it is a blog that reaches from the depths of my soul.

Traditionally, we believe that beyond the mourning, Tisha B'av also heralds the birth of the Messiah and the hope that when he finally arrives and we rebuild the Temple, the fast will be transformed into a holiday. With everything that's about to happen, let's hope that this year, we mourn for the very last time.

Until we meet again when I'll be fasting, I bid you adieu and ask you to pray for real peace in Israel, whatever faith you hold. We need all the help we can get.

5 comments:

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

In the hour before sundown here in California, I wish you a good shabbos and an easy fast.

May only peace be known to the world and to Israel.

As always... Rachael said...

Wow... powerful post, even though I only undersatand a portion of it. No eating or drinking (#1), does that mean no eating or drinking at all? No water?

Im beginning to understand the method of these sacrifices... but to be honest, I am not there yet. Short of being raised jewish, I'm not sure I'll ever understadn fully.

Do babies have to comply with the fast? If so, how do parents endure the incessant crying of a baby in need of breast-milk? I realize the fast is short in the grand scheme of things, but how do you not feed an infant who doesn't even realize she's jewish? How do yu console a hungry child and assure them they are going hungry as a profession of faith?

You know me... I don't mean to offend... I'm truly curious how such situations are handled according to Judaic law.

I'm just trying to put myself in your shoes, and it makes me wonder. If I was already irritable and unfriendly for lack of food... how do I justify an infant screaming for food? How do I "endure" an infant screaming for food?

I'm not sure I could do it, man. That's why I brought it up... to ask you. I'm sur3e that older children are a littel easier to deal with.... but how does an infant, too young to know that's she's hungry for a purpose... how do you guys deal with it?

Or does the rule not apply to nursing infants?

Please respond when you're available. Email me... that way I'll be sure to get it.

I wish you and your family a fast with wanting.

As always... Rachael said...

A fast with OUT wanting... i messed up that last line. My bad!

The Teacher said...

No offense taken! I've emailed you the answer, but for others who might be unsure, only girls aged 12 or over or boys aged 13 or over are required to fast.

In truth, the only fast that all Jews must do is Yom Kippur, which is the only one proscribed in the Torah by G-d. The other 5 were instituted by the Rabbis of old.

Saying that, Tisha B'av is the next most important fast after yom kippur.

The Teacher said...

Amen Barbara.