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Tisha B'Av

 Tisha b'Av - A Time to Grieve

As the book of Ecclesiastes explains - and the Byrds remind us - "There is a season for all things; a time for every purpose under heaven...  

...A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance..."  (Ecclesiastes ch.3)

In the cycle of the Jewish calendar, this month of Av is seen as the headquarters of weeping.  As the sages say - when Av enters, joy diminishes.  This is our collective time for grief.

The grief reaches its nadir on Tisha b'Av, the 9th day of Av, which will be commemorated this year from sundown tomorrow, Saturday 13th, through nightfall on Sunday 14th.

On this day Jews have for centuries abstained from food and drink, from washing, bathing and personal grooming, from sexual connection, and from various other forms of comfort and joy.

This is the time of the year when we make ourselves available to noticing the grief and destruction which is all around.  This is the season for feeling the pain of refugees, the terror of exile, the agony of violence.

Tradition teaches us that on this day both the first and second great Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed (in 585 BCE and 70 CE, respectively).

In our day, we are in danger of witnessing the loss of the third Temple - the benevolent biosphere in which we live.

This Is Truly A Time For Grief

In a society removed from engagement with the natural world, rife with distraction, and confused by its own dislocation, it is all too easy to turn away from the terror and destruction that pervade our planet at this time, and numb ourselves out with some or another pleasure.

On Tisha b'Av, We Practice Abstainance From These Distractions, and Engage With Loss  

As we remove ourselves from distraction, and sit in the embodied sense of lack - tasting a tiny fraction, in our fasting state, of the hunger, dirtiness, tiredness and suffering of the world's refugees - perhaps we can come into encounter with the vastness of our world's distress, and be moved to respond.

How Can You Mark This Day?

Consider fasting for some or all of Tisha b'Av. 

Tisha b'Av begins at nightfall on Saturday; the fast starts at 7:59pm and concludes Sunday at 8:28pm. There will be services at Bonai Shalom. (Services at Bonai Info) 9pm Saturday, with a candle-lit reading of the Book of Eicha (Lamentations), which combines first-hand accounts of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the subjugation of a starving city and the misery of prisoners of war.  

For contemporary reflections on Eicha and Tisha b'Av, and instructions for writing lament poetry, take a look at this article by CNK's own Henry Rasof.

For the full description of services to be held at Bonai Shalom Saturday night and Sunday, click here.

And Join Us At Shambhala's "Living Beyond Hope and Fear" Climate Change Symposium This Weekend

For a contemporary interfaith engagement with destruction, danger and the emotions that attend our contemplation thereof, you are invited to come to all or part of Shambhala Center's weekend symposium on
Living Beyond Hope and Fear: Social Confidence and Climate Change for full details of this event click here, which looks fascinating.

The symposium will conclude on Sunday with an interfaith panel featuring myself, among others, plus some Kohenet-facilitated ritual space. All are invited to attend.

It is possible to register for each day of the symposium separately, or the whole weekend at once.  Student and fixed income senior rates available.

As the chassidic tradition teaches us,

There Is Nothing So Whole As a Broken Heart

May we, and all the leaders of the world, have the grace to feel our own pain, fear, grief, confusion and longing.

May we have the grace to feel the pain of the world.

May we take the necessary first step of entering fully into mourning - for what has already been lost, for the massive destruction of the sacred, and for the ways in which our civilizations have gone so badly astray.

May we have the grace to be able to feel

May We All Mourn, And May We All Be Comforted

And May We Live To See Our World Rebuilt.

The Three Weeks

Click here for a teaching by Rav Bracha on the Three Weeks

Wed, April 8 2020 14 Nisan 5780