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
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
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!