Tishah B’Av is one of those rare days in the Jewish calendar that seamlessly interfaces with the ordinary weekday. On Tishah B’Av we are not clothed in our regal Shabbos or Yom Tov clothing nor do we partake in any festive meals and therein lies its power and strength. Indeed, this day is quite unique in that it is dedicated to relinquishing some of our most basic needs: the learning of Torah, eating and drinking and wearing leather shoes. But it is by focusing our attention on the meaning of the day in the manner proscribed by our sages that we can attain extraordinary results.
The intensity of the feelings of the day, superimposed upon our daily lives gives us a humbling view of our actual position in this world. It is by sitting for hours on or near the ground, in serious contemplation while fasting, that we can catch a glimpse of something about ourselves that we rarely have a chance to see. And this glimpse can be — if we allow ourselves to take advantage of it –the inspiration for a true transformation. Tishah b’Av like teshuva aids us in reaching a profound depth within our yearning souls. This yearning for the redemption (geula) for the time when we will find security, respect, peace and prosperity and where we will finally see an end to the periodic eruptions that have punctuated our long exile – eruptions that have produced the seismographic pulsations is what we heart fully pray for all day.
The bitter roots of our exile were extended deeply into the soil long before the destruction of our holy Temple — their growth stimulated through the diminution of Torah learning and by the adoption of foreign lifestyles and cultures.
What can we do on this day to “uproot” these perennial underlying causes that continue to hinder the rebuilding of our holy Bais HaMikdash?
On the Ninth of Av, as we accept upon ourselves the physical restrictions our Sages have imposed, we sow seeds of renewed dedication in the soil of altruistic humility that will, with the help of Hashem, bear an abundance of fruitful blessings.
On this day of mourning, by not wearing leather shoes on our feet, we begin to “step” unassumingly down from our pedestals of overreaching self-confidence.
On this day of mourning, by not using our legs to take leisurely strolls we increase our “strides” towards holiness.
On this day of mourning, by not washing and anointing our bodies for pleasure, we enhance our spiritual “purification”.
On this day of mourning, by not eating and drinking, we take the reins of control away from corporal desires of our hearts and hand them over to the soul to be our guide.
On this day of mourning, through refraining from using the thoughts of our minds for Torah study we clearly recognize the futility and emptiness of life without it.
And this day of mourning, the birth date of our long awaited Redeemer (Mashaich), is the very day that is the beginning of the new dawn which will bring everlasting joy and peace to all mankind. May we merit the final geula soon in our days.
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