SUNDOWN, MONDAY AUGUST 8:
Wish Jewish friends, co-workers and neighbors well today. Many will be observing the strict 25-hour fast of Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av). As in the Muslim fast of Ramadan, nothing passes the lips during this period—the fast even bars liquids, which is tough in such a hot month.
In the course of this fast, men and women may recall a series of tragedies across many centuries—and even reflect on contemporary issues in our world. In particular, fasting men and women reflect on the fall of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem in 586 BCE and 70 CE. (Judaism 101 has more.) Some also commemorate the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492 and the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto in the Holocaust.
How far can Jews take their solemn meditations? The goal is to apply these thoughts to contemporary life. In the Huffington Post, Rabbi Edward Bernstein argues that families should use Tisha B’Av this year to ponder ways that humans continue to destroy God’s natural world. He writes, in part: “My hope is that Tisha B’Av can inspire us toward boundless love and respect for the earth that sustains us and the human beings, animals and plants that surround us.”
It will be common today to find Jews dressed in clothes of mourning, refraining from smiles and reading from the book of Lamentations in the synagogue. For Tisha B’Av, the ark—the home of the Torah in a synagogue—is draped in black.
An App for Tisha B’Av
Rabbi Jason Miller, whose columns often combine high tech with ancient wisdom, reports on an App that’s perfect for this observance. Basically, the App provides Hebrew and English versions of Lamentations in formats that are relatively easy for Jewish readers.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.