2016-08-03 / Religion Column

Tisha B’Av revisited: Mourning until morning

RABBI EPHRAIM EPSTEIN
Congregation Sons of Israel

This year, Tisha B’Av is observed on Saturday night, Aug. 13 and Sunday, Aug. 14 until evening. Although the actual date of Tisha B’Av on the Jewish calendar falls on Shabbat the 13th, since we are not permitted to mourn on Shabbat, the law requires that we observe the fast on Sunday instead.

Tisha B’Av requires the same style mourning as Yom Kippur. Around the world Jews do not eat, drink, wear leather shoes, anoint themselves with perfumes or oils, and demonstrate affection on this sad day. The same way that Jews mourn when there is a loss of a loved one, we mourn the loss of the great Holy Temple in Jerusalem and G-d’s palpable presence that was experienced therein.

Although none of us were alive when the Holy Temple stood, and it is difficult to understand and identify with our loss, nevertheless we demonstrate mourning by sitting low to the ground and reciting elegies and look forward to the rebuilding of Jerusalem with the Holy Temple soon in our days.

To help us understand our loss, let’s envision the following hypothetical scenarios:

• Due to a unique medical condition, Avi seeks out a known specialist who utilizes state-of-the-art medical technology to diagnose and treat his rare disease. Upon arriving, Avi is told that the doctor and all doctors cannot help him because the hardware necessary to run the equipment he needs has been lost and it is not known when new hardware will be developed.

• Rachel treasures a beautiful heirloom her grandmother presented her when she was alive. Grandma said that if there is ever a problem with the necklace, bring it to Jacob the Jeweler who will know how to fix it. When the necklace fell apart, Rachel Googled Jacob the Jeweler and found out he is no longer in business. After tracking down Jacob’s family, Rachel was informed that Jacob passed away and there is no other jeweler around who is proficient in piecing together antique necklaces.

Poor Rachel, and even worse poor Avi!

When you think about it, the Jewish people and the world generally are in the same predicament as Rachel and Avi.

Our Torah is comprised of 613 Mitzvot— Commandments. Without the Holy Temple in today’s world, we can only fulfill 270! We are missing two thirds of the hardware. Our heirloom is only one third intact!

The Talmud and historians of the era all remark that when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem stood, there was nothing like it in the world. People came from everywhere to experience the beauty, grandeur and holiness of the Temple and G-d’s presence. As a nation, we are truly lacking and deficient without the presence of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

That is why our prayers all year round include passages of hope and longing for the rebuilding of the Temple.

The Talmud Taanit 30b states that only those who mourn the loss of the Temple will merit celebrating when it is rebuilt.

We are also taught that when the Messiah arrives, Tisha B’Av will actually be a great holiday of celebration. The darkness of mourning will be transformed into a new morning of light and sanctity. We will then be able to fulfill all 613 Mitzvot and G-d’s presence will once again be palpable and the world will heal and truth will be known to all.

I want to wish the entire Sothern New Jersey Jewish community a meaningful Tisha B’Av. May G-d answer our prayers; and may this be the final Tisha B’Av of mourning; and may we see mourning transform into morning.

Shabbat Shalom. s

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