31 July 2009

Tisha B'Av

Yesterday was my first Tisha B'Av. For those of you unaware of the meaning, it is a Jewish mourning holiday that involves a sunset to sunset fasting period. The book of the Tanach it relates to is Eicha. In English it's known as Lamentations, but Eicha means "How?". Wiki says,

"According to the Mishnah (Taanit 4:6), the day commemorates five events: the destruction of the Temples, the return of the twelve scouts sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan, the razing of Jerusalem following the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, and the failure of Bar Kokhba's revolt against the Roman Empire."

For me, I understand the destruction of the First and Second Temples and the return of the displeased scouts sent by Moshe, and know less about the Bar Kokhba's revolt. Nonetheless, it was a sobering holiday. It was my first full-day fast and also my first holiday at a Synagogue. This was probably a more positive experience going to shul than my last. I felt like the Rabbi at this Chabad was genuinely interested in knowing the people that set f ot in that shul. As I was leaving, the front door, the Rabbi was talking to somebody and he was blocking the way out just a bit (I just typed 'blogging' not 'blocking'; you see where my mind is after a fast). So I said excuse me and made to leave. As I was leaving the property he waved back and wished me a great evening. When I was waiting outside by the car, a man drove by (I assume he was talking to the Rabbi at that time). He stopped near me and hopped out of the car. He approached me to say something along the lines of, "hey! How was Eicha for you? The Rabbi wanted to let you know that he regretted not getting a chance to talk to you and meet you while you were there. Did you plan on coming back sometime soon? Really? Great! The Rabbi will be pleased." Yes, it was approximately like that. I wasn't actually offended as I understand greetings are usually taboo on Tisha B'Av, so he need not worry. :) It was probably the best experience I had so far in the Jewish community and it was hard to not be cheerful afterwards. But you know me, finding something to be sad about is a talent for me, so I was soon back to sadface. ;) I mean, I had never had a Rabbi wish he could have talked to me more or a Rabbi express a desire for me to return somewhere. That demonstrates something very key to me. No rabbis I have talked about conversion to ever seem to have time for counseling me. In fact, I never get to talk to my rabbi (mine, meaning down the street from my current abode) as he seems to always be too busy. If there was a man that I would want to be a witness or mentor to my conversion, it would be that Rabbi from the Chabad.

"The five main prohibitions on Tisha B'Av are:

1. No eating or drinking
2. No washing or bathing
3. No application of creams or oils
4. No wearing of leather shoes
5. No sexual relations. Some refrain from any displays of physical affection"


Rough day. Too that list I would also add "No being cheerful". :) I didn't have any non-leather shoe available in Lafayette, so I had to borrow Jaci's. She's a lot nicer than I'd ever imagined the younger sister of a boyfriend to actually be. That's something to be thankful for. And now that Tisha B'Av has passed, I can be happy about that.