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The Gantseh Megillah

Did I Sin This Tisha B'Av?

What a way to start Tisha B'Av, the ninth of the Jewish Month of Av, our day of greatest mourning. On Tisha B'Av we're not supposed to bathe, launder or put on clean clothes.

When I returned to my sister-in-law's home after hearing the special mournful Eicha, I changed into clean clothes, dried myself off and hung up clothing to dry. Did you guess correctly? There was a very powerful rainstorm.

The walk to the car was long and wet. We were drenched by the time we got there. I was glad that my shoes weren't ruined. I was wearing rubber shower thongs, since leather is forbidden on the Ninth of Av.

I felt like I had just taken a shower. My clothes were dripping wet, hat to toe. Although it's forbidden to bathe and change into clean clothes, it was clear that these weren't normal circumstances.

Jewish Law is governed by common sense. I didn't have to stay in wet clothes, just because it's the Ninth of Av.

And although Tisha B'Av is a twenty-five hour fast like Yom Kippur, those with certain health problems are required to eat. A good and thorough knowledge of Jewish Law shows this.

Tzom Kal, have an easy fast, if you're permitted to fast. If you must eat, do it as the rabbi and doctor instruct, but your mind must stay focused on the day.

Yesterday morning I accompanied my sister-in-law to a friend of hers for T'hillim, Psalms. They have one of those sets of all the one hundred and fifty divided into equal length booklets. There were lots of women, and we finished quickly. I'm getting to know the women, since I've met them in shul on Shabbat here. Home in Shiloh, I frequently join neighbors on Tuesday afternoons.

One big difference was that in Shiloh we finish our prayers, requests and Psalms and then leave. In my sister-in-law's neighborhood they read from a book. Amazingly the excerpt was about caring for parents. It was as if it was chosen specifically for me. I was in New York after taking my very elderly father from my home in Shiloh to Arizona, where my mother decided they should live, near my sister. Last October I took my father to Shiloh from their home in New York. He made aliyah and impatiently waited for my mother to join him. We all accepted the change in plans, and now I'm "vacationing" with family in New York.

Last night we all went to their synagogue for the Tisha B'Av service and reading of Eicha, Lamentations.

This was also divided up among a few readers.

The synagogue was very crowded. Public mourning on Tisha B'Av is much more common and acceptable abroad than it once was. I consider this a very good sign. G-d willing we will rapidly begin building our Beit HaMikdash, Holy Temple and all be in the Land of Israel. And next year, we'll be celebrating the dedication of the rebuilt Holy Temple!

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