Missing the Jewish holidays? We’re approaching a minor one, Tisha B’Av or the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av. We observe this holiday each summer usually at the end of July, beginning of August. Unfortunately, no BBQs or big family meals. It’s a day where we abstain from eating and drinking. While it is not the most fun holiday, it is definitely one of the more important holidays we observe during the year.
This year Tisha B’Av starts the evening of July 31st and ends the night of August 1st. The 9th of Av is the day the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. The temples were the center of Jewish life and practice from around 957 BCE through the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. During this period of time, Jewish life looked a lot different from today. Rather than praying to God, animals were sacrificed on an altar in the Temple. It’s probably not something that would really fly today, now would it?
So how can we, our children, and our communities commemorate this holiday that seems so far from us? First, we can remember, which is always important for all of the tragedies our people have faced in the past. Second, we can be grateful and appreciate the Judaism that we are so fortunate to have today. The Destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem forever changed the way that we exist as Jewish people. While it is considered the saddest day of the year, out of this terrible destruction came great light and beauty.
There is a story that is told in the Talmud about two rabbis walking in the rubble of the Temple in Jerusalem. One is completely distraught that the Temple is gone and does not know how they will continue. The other rabbi tells him not to worry, because God does not crave animal sacrifice, but rather the offerings of the heart. Now that we do not have a Temple in Jerusalem we each have to look inside ourselves and offer something of ourselves in order to preserve the Jewish tradition and community. What does this look like? This Tisha B’Av let us each commit ourselves to one mitzvah, one good deed, we will do the week of Tisha B’Av in remembrance of the Temple. This is a perfect way to commemorate this minor holiday because it is through deeds that we sustain the Jewish people and the greater world.
Wishing you and your family a wonderful summer and a meaningful Tisha B’Av. May your exploration of mitzvot/good deeds be rewarding and meaningful for you.