In the middle of summer, the season of Fire, comes the 'scorcher' Tisha B'Av, arguably the heaviest day of all on the Hebrew Calendar. On Tisha B'Av, the 9th of the month of Av, we remember the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. This is the beginning of thousands of years of exile from the Shechinah, Gd's feminine presence who once rested in our midst. We read Eicha, or the book of Lamentations.
When Adam sined in the Garden of Eden, Gd spoke a word that has the same root as Eicha he said 'Ayeka' or How? Where... are You? We are lost, separated from our very source. We have been 'burned' in the worst possible way. We keep a full 25 hour fast.
We begin this experience 3 weeks earlier with the minor or daytime fast of the 17th of the month of Tammuz, on this day the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem. This is also considered the day on which Moses broke the original tablets received at Sinai, when he discovered the people had made the golden calf. Weddings are not permitted from the 17th of Tammuz until after Tisha B'Av. Haircuts, the buying and wearing of new clothes and musical celebrations are all avoided. For a contempory connection it is important to note that Tisha B'Av can coincide with the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 6th and August 9th, on the western calendar).
This is truely the dark night of the soul. Vessels unworthy to contain the light, we are shattered. We recall the sin for which it is said the Temples were destroyed, baseless hatred and make every effort not to pour salt on our wounds. Exposed and revealed we must face our true selves, no matter what must 'die off' in us in the process.
Tradition has it that the Moshiach will be born on Tisha B'Av, redemption in the ashes of destruction. We begin the Seven Weeks of Comfort. These parshiot hashavuot (weekly Biblical readings) speak of redemption, restoration and times ahead of justice and peace. They offer real comfort for our losses.
"Seasons of Joy" Aurthur I Waskow
"Miriam's Well" Penina V Adelman (1)
"The Temple" from 'The Box of Parshiot (Re'eh)' Chana Elsa Katana
"Nine Days Minus One"