This year, Israel’s holiday of Tisha b’Av is July 30, beginning the night before, July 29 around sundown.
It was instituted to acknowledge the destruction of the first and second Jerusalem temples, the sending of the population to Babylon (today’s Iraq) and various other ominous events that all happened around this time.
Most in Israel fast on Tisha b’Av as directed by the rabbis. However, according to the Israeli writings in Isaiah 58, the stipulated method of fasting is not so much about abstinence as it is connected with our interactions with others.
Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
Interesting, because it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the temple at all, but living everyday life thinking about others first. To plan for humanitarian aid. To reach out. To all our friends “Tzohm kall”! (May your fast be easy!)
By Jo Kaplan