Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, begins Saturday 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 distressing 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.
Coincidences 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 occur again and again on the same date than surely there must be room for something good to also happen on Tisha B’Av. On this day, we might take a moment to look inward, to connect with our souls.
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.
It is likely that you’ll appreciate this gift of introspection and letting go. It could be a reminder that we do not control everything and that we live amidst an infinite universe that is vaster than our own concerns. In this reflection, perhaps we can come to understand that there are not always answers to everything, and that the only thing we can control is our actions.