Commemorating Tisha B’Av

by Maggid Zelig Golden
10 Av 5774 | August 6, 2014

Yesterday was Tisha B’Av, the ninth of the Hebrew month Av, a festival and fast day commemorating the destruction of our ancient Temples.

Tisha B’Av is understood to be the saddest day in the Jewish calendar when we commemorate many tragic events in our history. The month of Av falls in the height of the summer during the driest time of the year, and thus a time of sadness when rain is uncertain.

This year, Tisha B’Av hits particularly close to home because of the very real tragedy of war. News of worsening conflict has us sick and yearning for waters of salvation.

In ancient days, before there were Jews and Arabs, the mourning on Tisha B’av was a Babylonian act of grieving the lost of the sacred powers associate with bringing the waters, because the heat of summer had brought death to the realm of vegetation.

As with all cycles, the mourning of Av gives eventually way to the celebration of new life. Just five days from now, we celebrate Tu B’Av — the 15th day of the Hebrew month Av. The ancients tossed flowers down into the wells, an act of courting back the beloved powers that bring loving waters. We Jews now commemorate this as a day of love — maidens dancing in the fields, adorning themselves with flowers, chasing the young men, courting to find their love.

If Tisha B’Av is the dark day of gloom and destruction, then Tu B’Av marks the turn back toward the light — a time to yearn for the return of the waters of love and joy. As we approach Tu B’Av just five days from now, may we all hold in our hearts the hope for a new beginning: may we soon feel the fresh loving rains and may our parched hearts be moistened once again by the shelter of peace.