I'm bad at Tisha B'Av. And I like Tisha B'Av. (These go together, because being good at it involves being sad, which is incompatible with liking things.) It's weird; I think I'm too positive of a person to be sad on command. But there's more than that; I find all of the little liturgical and traditional touches to the holiday to all be pointing in a positive direction. And I keep looking for more. Some examples: We don't say tachanun today; it's a supplicatory prayer that's normally only omitted on happy holidays and other positive stretches of calendar, as well as on and around weddings. The liturgy doesn't change that much in other ways, and all of the positive and thankful prayers seem even stronger today. The structure of the evening service in particular is identical to that of the only other two days that biblical selections are chanted in the evening: Purim and Simchat Torah, two of the happiest days in the calendar. The biblical selections that are read throughout the day today all have occasional lines of hope. And, if you're into this sort of thing, the messiah is going to be born, according to tradition, on Tisha b'Av.
I have this metaphor I often use to understand this section of the Jewish calendar. It's like we're on a suspension bridge heading from one year to the next. The bridge starts at 17 Tammuz (a minor fast day 3 weeks ago) and ends at Hoshanah Rabbah (the very, very, very last day of procrastinatory repentance at the end of Sukkot). But the two towers holding everything up are the two fast days, Tisha B'Av (the "sad" one) and Yom Kippur (the happiest day of the calendar). We're now in between the two towers, and on the road to repentance and the year 5772!
Anyway. Last night I had a lovely pre-fast dinner with JA and MR. Then we went to Kehillat Hadar for evening services. One is not supposed to greet people on Tisha B'Av, so little old perky me went around after services saying "Not-Hi!" to amenable people and having friendly conversations, both appropriate to the somber mood of the day and, well, less so. I went home and was thrilled to be able to sleep late, since we started yeshiva late to make the fasting a bit easier. Morning services were odd, because I had trouble relating to all of the "kinot" (elegies about people and things being destroyed) that we sing for an hour. Then there was a 2.5-hour class session, but I had trouble focusing due to the lack of my usual breakfast calories. (Just because fasting is pretty easy for me doesn't mean I don't miss the food...) We let out at 2:30, so I took a lovely nap at home and am now catching up on some email from last week. And getting this blogging done before I head out to a break-fast in an hour or so.
Have a lovely rest of your Tisha B'Av, if you're observing. And, if you have any negative ways to approach today that I may be able to relate to, feel free to share...
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