Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, began Wednesday evening. Traditionally, Jews have fasted on this day that marks the destruction of both of Jerusalem’s holy temples in 423 BCE and 70 CE. The ninth of Av has long been a reminder of difficult moments in Jewish history. In 1313 BCE, as noted in the Torah, the spies returned from a mission to the Promised Land on the ninth of Av to report that the land “consumes its inhabitants.” On this same day, The Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans in 133 ended in defeat. Also, in 1290, England’s Jews were expelled, and in 1492, Jews were banished from Spain. Numerous other tragedies have occurred on Tisha B’Av that have directly impacted Jews, including the mass deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto, which began on July 23, 1942.
Coincidence or not, this day looms large in Jewish history. Traditionally, Jews give charity and spend much of the day in deep contemplation. These days we have a lot to contemplate, and Tisha B’Av is an opportunity to slow down and remove oneself from popular culture and the ever-persistent news cycle.
If tragedy can repeatedly occur on the same day than surely there must be room for something good to also happen on Tisha B’Av. On this day, one might take a moment to connect with their soul.
We are in the middle of a pandemic, but on this day perhaps you can go for a walk, sit on the beach, or find a patch of open space in your favorite forest. Or simply pull up a chair in your kitchen and relax. Breathe deeply and slowly, and try to let go of the meaningless things you’ve been carrying around. Think about the sanctity of life, family, and what’s important to you. Take a moment and look to the heavens in amazement.
After a few minutes you’ll most likely appreciate this gift of introspection and letting go. While it may not change your life, it could be a reminder that we do not control everything and that we live amid an infinite universe that is more than just our thoughts. In this reflection, perhaps we can reach a point where we understand that there are not always answers to everything, and that the only thing we can control is our actions.