The Trouble with Tisha B’Av

We’re approaching Tisha B’Av and I’m having a hard time. One of the things that impacts my approach to Judaism is the struggle with faith and identity that I had before. I always held a belief in Gd but the definition of that relationship was a messy ordeal. I don’t believe one can be “without Gd” but I definitely felt like I kept Gd at arms length for a while.

Through a lot of seeking and discovery, I finally made peace with that struggle and it helps to strengthen my intention when I pray. People tell me that I’ve always been here and not to use the word convert because it’s offensive. I don’t know who it offends but it doesn’t offend me. I’m extremely proud of that choice and the truth is – I haven’t always been here. I can understand it from a spiritual perspective.  Judaism was a homecoming, after all.  The only difference is that it wasn’t always my home. I spiritually lived somewhere else and I don’t ever want to forget that. That difference between what was and what is, I feel, only strengthens where I stand now. I’m proudly Jewish and shouting it from the mountain tops. However, just like I wasn’t raised Jewish, I also wasn’t raised with the concept of mourning for a Temple.

One of the things that I love about Judaism is that it is so incredibly personal and communal at the same time. It’s about YOUR actions , YOUR intentions, and the effect they have on you and also – everyone around you. These are your choices and your responsibilities. It is about a person and a people. That concept is something that I’ve been able to apply to so many things ever since this Journey has been underway but it seems to fall short when it comes to mourning the Temple.

So as we enter into Tisha B’Av, I’m trying my best to come at it from a perspective that allows me to embrace the time, use it wisely, and honor it properly. I didn’t lose a Temple but my people did. Tragedy didn’t befall me on the 9th of Av but it has landed heavily on my people. While I cannot say that I am in mourning personally, my people are. I know a lot of folks who stand during the mourner’s Kaddish when others have lost someone. I hear a lot about this from all sides but I think it’s beautiful. So on this Tisha B’Av, even though I may struggle to find my place in it, I’ll be beside my people in their mourning. Maybe that, and the struggle that comes with it, is my place in it.

If you fast, may it be an easy one.

L’Shalom,

Joe

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