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by Tzadikguy

The spies you sent returned with a devastating report that the Promise Land appears impregnable. The people began to doubt and lose faith in the One who promised the Land..

The once magnificent and Holy Temple where you could draw close to HaShem; where you could become ritually pure; the place that you would visit a few times year; the place that had become a part of your walk…was destroyed..

The horrid memory of the destruction of the first temple was partially being replaced with the presence of the incredible and monumental second Holy Temple. Things were great. You were just beginning to slightly forget about the demolition of first Temple when catastrophe struck..The second Holy Temple you came to love…was destroyed..

You had a little house. You had a family. You had an occupation. You were happy in England. The year was 1290 CE and things were going well. As you approached a particular day of the year you began feeling uneasy. Then your worst fear was proclaimed and enforced throughout England..Every Jew was expelled from the country..

At least this time you were given four months to completely evacuate..Just when you were settling in, feeling welcome, and making money you heard the devastating and dreadful news of the edict of expulsion from Spain in 1492 CE. Where were you to go? Where could you escape the horrific plague of persecution that was spreading like an airborne disease?

What could possibly be worse than having such saddening, disastrous events happen to your people? Having them all happen…on the exact same day. That day is today. Tisha B’ Av [The ninth of Av].Each event pushed further and further into a debilitating wound. No other people in history have ever experienced the persecution, the horror, and the destruction the Jewish people have endured. On such a solemn day as this we should mourn with Israel. We should remember the tragedies and pray. During the weekday shacharit and minchah prayers we find a few extra paragraphs for fast days in the Siddur. I encourage you to at the very least look at the words the Jewish people are praying and pray yourself. Here are some ideas for participating in the fast of Tisha B’ Av:

  • The fast begins at sundown July 19 and ends sundown July 20.
  • It is customary to read the book of Lamentations. Get a group together and alternate reading Lamentations out loud. Upon completion, discuss the book and the relation to Tisha B’ Av.
  • Read a few articles about Tisha B’ Av. Become familiar with the history, the customs, and the traditions of the Jewish people. Click here for a great blog post about Tisha B’ Av.
  • Prepare an easy and fun way to break the fast at sundown on July 20. A get-together with friends and food is always a great option.
  • If you are working take the opportunity to pray minchah and the extra paragraphs on your lunch break. You will not be eating anyway.
  • Write a thank you letter to an Israeli soldier.
  • Gift a tangible or financial gift to an individual or organization in Israel. I recommend EFRAT but there are many great charities in Israel.
  • Write a post or a journal entry about your experience on Tisha B’ Av or record ideas and suggestions of activities, articles, books, websites, etc.
  • Finally, at the end of the fast focus on the anticipation of future joy found in Zechariah 8:19 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.”

May you all have a Tzom Kal [Easy Fast] and be a light to the nations.

Shalom

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