Let’s Schmooze!
Like Me, Pretty Please!
Subscribe to the Tribe!

Enter your e-mail address to get Mishegas of Motherhood in your Inbox:


Tisha B’Av, A Time To Rebuild Our Inner Sanctuary

If ever there is an appropriate time for communal mourning, it is now, in the midst of a global pandemic.  On July 29 at sundown marks the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the many catastrophes that have befallen the Jewish people at this very time throughout our history.

Tisha B’Av is not a holiday of joy, but rather an anticipation of better days to come. This perspective sheds light and gives us hope in our modern day tragedy. Pandemic, protests, politics…we are in a war amongst ourselves.

Tisha B’Av, which literally means the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, is a time to remember the destruction of the two holy temples in Jerusalem almost 2,000 and 2,500 years ago, as well as other calamities that sought to break our soul and destroy us. We remember these tragic events that include the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1942, the start of World War I and the ensuing tragedy of both Worlds Wars that lead to the Holocaust, and more HERE.

The exile lasted up until the Six Day War in 1967 when, after a battle, the Western Wall became ours again. Today, the world is under siege by  the fallout of COVID-19. The novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on humanity on all fronts–physically, emotionally, economically, socially, morally, and ethically. We were not prepared for this  causing much pain, suffering, fear and uncertainty.  And tragically, we are our own worst enemy.

The period of three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av is as significant as the day itself. This period of The Three Weeks is known in Hebrew as “bein hametzarim,” or, literally, “within the straits” or “within the borders.” These three weeks represent the time leading up to the day the ancient walls of the city of Jerusalem were breached. Traditionally at this time, we start limiting the pleasures and joys that Judaism usually encourages. These restrictions include no weddings, parties, or public celebrations. Some people abstain from getting haircuts and shaving, going to concerts or listening to music during this period. Then during the last nine days, we give up foods that are traditionally associated with joy, such as wine and meat, except on Shabbat we can indulge. Also forbidden is bathing (beyond what is absolutely necessary), doing laundry, and buying or wearing new clothes.

And finally, on the day of Tisha B’Av, we fast, pray, read from the book of Lamentations (Eichah).  This is not a time to focus on our restrictions and imitations; it’s a time to slow down, pause, and remember the dark days and despair of the past so that we can work towards a better future. As Tisha B’Av teaches us, hope, joy, and redemption awaits us. Tish B’Av is an ideal time to take a break from social media and the bombardment of negativity, hostility, and bad news. Instead we can participate in an online Torah study class, learn more about the symbolism of Oral Torah from a world-class teacher on a webinar, join a healing prayer group and sing Mi Shebarach  or an uplifting service streaming from a local synagogue, enjoy a hike on a new trail, whatever puts us in a better frame of mind. More exciting learning opportunities with Momentum HERE and with Aish St. Louis HERE. 

Now that we are some five months into the pandemic, these three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av might not seem like a long time for restricting behavior. Today, we are forced to live with other kinds of restrictions and for much longer, but not indefinitely, and in doing so we will regain our freedom and prevent the virus from spreading even more out of control. Tisha B’Av reminds us instead of tearing down each other, this is a time to come together no matter how controversial the battle is we are fighting– masks, schools, jobs, drug conspiracies, the election, social distancing, travel bans, inequality, protests, anti-semitism, even kneeling during the national anthem, all fuel the fire. It’s time to extinguish the flames. We don’t have to agree on everything, but we can love more, hate less, and be better humans.

At first, Covid-19 seemed to bring us closer together. We stayed home, we spent time with our family, we clung to our faith for strength and comfort, we looked out for those in need. We respected  our front line heroes, showed gratitude to our school teachers. We appreciated grocery store employees, mail carriers, and essential businesses. The environment even thanked us, pollution lifted, water and air was cleaner, wildlife roamed once again, and there were less cars, airplanes, traffic, noise. We shared the same goal–to  stay safe, healthy, and put aside our differences so we can get through this crisis together, the sooner the better to flatten the curve and spare more casualties.

The messages of Tisha B’Av shows us that now is a time to grieve for what we have lost and perhaps what we have taken for granted, and it’s also a time to unite. While many of us can’t relate to the devastation of losing our holiest place where the Jewish people connected with God thousands of years ago, we can relate to being tested time and time again to rebuild our faith in God and each other. This is a monumental task during this unprecedented time, but we must rise to the occasion.

Tisha B’Av is a time to rebuild our inner sanctuaries, brick by brick. We have an opportunity to improve our schools, hospitals, neighborhoods, communities, economy, fundamentally from the ground up. So while the scientists focus on making a safe and effective vaccine, let us work on being kinder, more understanding, and listening to each other.

Here are 10 ways to get started through acts of kindness that Judaism teaches us. 

“Acts of kindness never die. They linger in the memory, giving life to other acts in return”. – Jonathan Sacks, a British Orthodox rabbi, philosopher, theologian, author and politician.

“Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” – Elie Wiesel, a Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor.