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.