Pirkei Avot, Day 18

Today is Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. For those who have never heard of it, it is one of the saddest days in the Jewish calendar. It’s a day of communal mourning. How fascinating that our tradition sets aside this day for all Jews to mourn. But what exactly are we mourning?

Well, it is said that not only did the First Temple in Jerusalem fall on this day in 586 B.C.E, but the Second Temple was destroyed on this exact date in 70 C.E. Other destructive and terrible events have been said to have fallen on this day as well. So our ancestors declared it as a day of disaster and mourning and punishment. Some say it is a day to remind ourselves of “Sinat chinam,” free and open hatred, which is what could have caused these terrible events to occur. It is a reminder to keep ourselves in check, to make sure that we are aligned with heaven. We humble ourselves (through mourning and for some, fasting), and come back to the truth of who we were before things got muddled.

Here’s what I’d like you to do today:

Take some time out of your day to sit with mourning (maybe even journal). Think about the last 6 months. What are you mourning? Are you mourning the life you once had? What aspects? Go back even further and mourn for parts of yourself or your life you haven’t yet mourned for. Other things may come up as well. The point is to humble yourself today and get to the truth of your sadness (we all have some sadness). If we are able to truly sit with the sadness and the mourning, we will eventually be brought back to joy. Which is why we were also given Tu B’Av (the 15th day of Av), the Jewish Valentines Day. More to come on that next week.

Sadness and even crying are a way to release some of the things in our past that we may be holding onto. Things that aren’t serving us anymore or may even be holding us back. Sadness and mourning are not fun but they are an important part of living. They have great gifts to offer.

I love you all and remember, part of the mourning journey is also comforting the mourner. Reach out to each other in comfort.

Rabbi Gabi

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