Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Thoughts on Tisha B'Av

As we head into Tisha B’Av in a few hours, there is a lot to think about. For the past week or two I’ve been more or less numbed to what is going on in Israel, but in these hours before Tisha B’Av, the threats against Israel are hitting me with a bit more gravity.

Like most people who observe the day with fasting, I truly dread Tisha B’Av. It is uncomfortable and depressing and just really hard to get through. Although I am excited about my plans for this coming weekend, it is hard to think that far ahead with this big cloud of a depressing day hanging over me. I know I will get through it as I always do, but it is difficult to come to terms with the fact that there is this one day of the year when we are supposed to be sad. So much so that, like shiva, we are supposed to avoid going to work if we can, lest we be tempted to let the day fly by in a flurry of productivity.

When I was a teenager, I was nervous about fasting, and dreaded that lingering feeling of hunger and the sense that the day would never end. Now that I am older, the hunger itself doesn’t bother me as much, and the day doesn’t seem quite as endless, but it is still a long, difficult day.

With the three weeks and nine days preceding Tisha B’Av, the restrictions on listening to music and eating meat create a sense of growing frustration, more than sorrow for me. Every year, I enter the three weeks with the resigned knowledge that I just have to get through it, all the while feeling that nothing good can really begin until Tisha B'Av is over.

Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling this way, because this time period is supposed to inspire deeper reflection than just, “I can’t wait until this is over.” But, I suspect that most people struggle with similar feelings about the day, and most of us feel we have achieved what we should if for just a few moments during Tisha B’Av we can mourn for the pain that our people has experienced over so many generations.

Let us look forward to a day when it will no longer be necessary to observe Tisha B’Av.


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