High Holidays, Yamim Nora-im, post 1

Post date: Aug 1, 2012 1:41:59 AM

Sunday, we marked the end of the period of 3 weeks of sadness with the completion of Tisha B'Av, the fast day which commemorates the destruction of the first and second Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is said that the "Messiah" will be born on Tisha B'Av - essentially, that from our greatest tragedy comes our greatest hope.

That could be a topic of discussion all by itself. But more urgently, the end of Tisha B'Av portends the Days of Awe, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is only 7 weeks until then - really, 6 weeks and 5 days from now. That is not a whole lot of time!

After the 9th of Av, we mark 7 full weeks. And the day after these 49 days is Rosh Hashanah, book-ended by Yom Kippur, the only other 25 hour fast in Judaism.

So, it begs the questions, What might we learn from the relationship between Tisha B'Av and Rosh Hashanah? How do they compare? Contrast? And what might we say about the other 7 week period in the Jewish calendar, the counting of the Omer?

Tisha B'Av is the nadir, the emotional low point, of the Jewish calendar. Its customs are similar to those of Shiv'a - mourning - without bathing, sitting on low stools, reading by dim light. Historically, it was established as a way to mourn the loss of the Holy Temple.

The 7 week tie between Pesah and Shavuot can be said to reflect the need for Freedom to be tempered by Responsibility.

Similarly, the relationship between Tisha B'Av and Rosh Hashanah might tell us that we must not wallow indefinitely in depression, mourning, and inaction. We need to take positive committed actions in our lives. Take a moment to acknowledge your pain, then, Move On!

So, come the 15th of Av, Jews have the custom to explore intimate relationships. Then another 2 weeks, on Elul, we hear the clarion call of the shofar, every day, telling us, "Shuvu," - Return - Clean up your business, then Clean up your soul. Or as the Beatles said, Get Back.