Yes, I know that the fast was over yesterday. But since it’s been a number of years since I’ve actually been able to properly prepare for a fast day prior to the fast – lately it’s “Did I drink enough?” and “Did I buy enough art supplies for the kids?” – my musings are a day late.
Since there’s not much to do on Tisha B’Av except sit and well, muse, these are the thoughts that popped and/or floated into my head as I counted down the hours yesterday:
1. Sometimes, it doesn’t end well. On Friday night, my daughter randomly began singing “Who Knows One?” from the Passover seder. My husband said, half-jokingly, that indeed the 9th of Av and Pesach are related. On Pesach, we say, “In every generation, they rise up against us to finish us off.” On Pesach, we celebrate how they didn’t succeed. On Tisha B’Av, we commemorate how they … kinda did. No, they didn’t finish us off for good, but they burned our Temple, razed Jerusalem, exiled us and forbade us from even entering the holy city. I would say they did a pretty good number on us.
2. Tisha B’Av = Take Your Kids To Shul Day. Tisha B’Av night is actually a perfect time to take your kids to synagogue. They’ve just eaten, so you can forgo snacks and drinks. Shul is short – just evening prayers and megillat Eichah. Eichah, too, is short. Kids can follow along and the mournful tune is intriguing, different. Plus, you get to sit on the floor, with your mom or dad. Not a bad combo, even for the under 10 crowd.
3. We need food, but not as much as we think. When it comes down to it, we need a lot less food than we think we do. The huge meal we ate before the fast didn’t last us past the night (maybe there’s something to the tradition of starting your fast with a hard-boiled egg). And during the day, when we’re really ravenous, most of us are not dreaming of a six-course meal. Maybe a cup of coffee and a sandwich. Not that this stops me from consuming too much food the rest of the year, but on a day where there’s no food at all, it’s interesting to think about how much of our eating is to sustain us, and how much is for other, less noble reasons.
4. I never would have made it. This thought hits me every fast day. Yesterday, by 4:00 in the afternoon, I had given up all pretense of doing anything remotely related to either Tisha B’Av or parenting, and headed for my bedroom, where I clutched my head in agony for the next four hours. And I thought – I ate a huge meal yesterday, there is food awaiting me later, and if I really, really need to, I can eat right now. There is food a mere few steps beyond my bedroom door. (And thanks to my two-year-old, probably under my bed as well). And yet, I’m a mess. I can’t handle 24 hours without food (or, to be honest, coffee). I try to imagine myself during times of true hardship that befell the Jewish people – the Holocaust, during which people literally subsisted on potato peels for years, or the time of the destruction of the Temple, where Eichah tells us that the hunger was so intense, so all-consuming, that parents ate their own children. How would I have survived? Without my steady diet of foodstuffs and migraine medication? And how can I complain now, when I know my teeny tiny suffering will end in a few hours? I ask myself this question every Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur, and I still don’t have an answer.
5. It’s a whole year till the next Tisha B’Av! Well, we have to get through Yom Kippur first, but then our season of fasting is essentially over for another year. Perhaps this is not the most spiritual thought, but there you go. And maybe, whatever has to happen to turn Tisha B’Av into a day of joy instead of a day of mourning will happen by then, and I’ll be able to come up with some new musings.