I’m jealous of the rabbi, he’s davening maariv and he’s crying, I’m reading some Artscroll book on the Sfas Emes. Next is Eicha, sure the sad tune which I love and sometimes hum when I’m cooking can provoke some to be sad, but not me. I’m just minding my own business reading about the Gerer Chassidic Dynasty (interesting folks actually) and kind of feeling bad about not feeling bad. Does this sound like you? I did suffer a bit in shul, I sat on the floor trying to prevent too many farts from getting through my butt cheeks which were already asleep by the time they finished shema. I also tried to fend off sleep, think about holy things and concentrate on my lack of sadness.
Every once in a while I wonder about why I’m not good at being a good Jew. Why am I not sad, happy, spiritual, holy, etc…during the times hen I’m supposed to have such emotions. Tisha B’av is one of those days I can’t relate to, he beis hamikdash is so abstract that I’m not sure too many people I associate with can really get a true appreciation for what it was. What do I know from sacrifices and kohanim? What do I know from holy pilgrimages, the closest I’ve gotten to a holy pilgrimage is when I get on time for shul because I don’t want people thinking I only came for the kiddush.
So even though I’m spaced out, reading something that has nothing to do with Tisha B’av and wondering what I could possibly write about for Tisha B’av, I’m aware of the fact that I should be feeling something which I cannot. Of course I start thinking that I must not be alone, there must be thousands of folks exactly like me, sitting on floors around the country thinking of things that have nothing to do with sadness – unless their sadness over credit card bills and work counts as such. Eicha ends and I pick up the siddur to get my kinnos on, I hate saying kinnos by the way, so much do I hate them that I view this as some sort of suffering. So I look at the Artscroll introduction and see that there are kinnos written about the Holocaust. The Holocaust is that one thing we modern Jews who do not feel sadness from the churban beis hamikdash can relate to, but isn’t the Holocaust and Tisha B’av only reserved for modern orthodox Jews? Well, this year I “discovered” that the Bobover Rebbe and Rav Shimon Schwab both wrote kinnos lamenting the Holocaust….and so started my quasi sadness.
The Holocaust is darned sad, there’s not much happiness that’s related to the Holocaust and if you really want to get sad, just read something to do with the Holocaust. Is Tisha B’av about getting sad over specific events, or can we lament over the general hatred shown toward the Jewish peoiple throughout the years. One can lament the lack of Judaism amongst many Jews nowadays…intermarriage sucks some serious butt, as does choosing between educating your kids Jewishly or putting food on the table.
As to suffering, I’m sitting on a backless stool right now and it sucks because my back is hurting and I’m tired. I didn’t listen to the radio tonight and don’t plan on “enjoying” my day tomorrow, I may even refrain from cooking. For many folks their lack of sadness may be an inhibitor to spirituality, but for me it seems to be a catalyst towards self reflection. It seems that my lack of sadness has caused me to explore other ways to commemorate what is called the saddest day of the year. I hope that any of you who feel lost on Tisha B’av can take heart that. although sadness seems to be abstract, just the mere fact that you’re thinking of your lack of sadness means that you’re at least cogniscent of the fact that something is going on in your head that has to do with this very day.
How do you approach Tisha B’av?