On Wednesday night, the fast of Tisha B’av begins. “Tisha B-what?” my friends say. If it isn’t Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur or Passover, my non-Jewish or Jewish but less observant friends have no clue what I’m talking about. Why isn’t the saddest day on the Jewish calendar more well-known?
I spent my first Tisha B’av in Jerusalem. It wasn’t so hard for be to let the sadness of the day wash over me. It was just a few months after my fibromyalgia diagnosis. I’d just quit my job for once and for all because of it. I didn’t know what was next. I felt homeless, untethered, roaming the world like a lost little ghost.
It was powerful to be in Jerusalem of all places, the place where the Temple had been destroyed not once but twice. The first time I went to the Western Wall, The Kotel, I didn’t know what to feel. All around me women were praying and crying and I was awed into silence.
I spent the first Tisha B’av with a bunch of little old ladies at the OU building in Jerusalem. There was no one my age, no one sitting on the floor like mourners because everyone had an ache, an ailment, that kept them in a chair. I remember that one lady and I whispered to each other about the medications we were taking for our aches and pains.
I cried a lot. I wondered if it was possible that some part of my family had been Jewish, that some part of me had been in Jerusalem before. It wasn’t fair otherwise. While many were mourning the loss of the Temples, I was wondering why I’d only become Jewish after the fact? I realized that instead of just mourning, I was trying to imagine what it would have been like to be part of the world that we were mourning.
Websites to check out:
If you’ve got links to articles, books or thoughts you’d like to share about Tisha B’av, please comment and I’ll incorporate them into this post.