Friday, August 8, 2008


It's raining outside and I sit here in my house in New York, USA, thinking about how soon it will be Shabbos. The funny thing is that the onset of Shabbos also means Tisha b'Av is almost here.

It's a weird dichotomy, having Shabbos and Tisha b'Av right next to each other. It's almost like the transition from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha'Atzmaut, only backwards. Shabbos is a day where we're not supposed to show signs of mourning. We're supposed to be b'simcha - having three meals and wine, etc. We're not allowed to fast on Shabbos. Shabbos trumps all fast days except Yom Kippur (and Yom Kippur is not a sad day or a day of mourning). And yet as soon as Shabbos ends, we go immediately into Tisha b'Av.

I think transition plays a huge role in Judaism. We are constantly transitioning between different levels of kedusha, different kinds of relationships with God, kodesh to chol, chol to kodesh, celebration to mourning, mourning to celebration...

We have to be able to cope with all these transitions. We have sad times, we have happy times, and often they're one right after the other. Not so long after Tisha b'Av, we have Tu b'Av, which is a much happier day.

Transitions like these keep us active participants in our religion and in our relationship with God. Constant change means we have to constantly be focusing our mindset on different emotions. And a transition like going from Shabbos straight into Tisha b'Av really brings out the stark difference between the two. Shabbos - a day of three meals, lechem mishna, kiddush, singing. Tisha b'Av - a day of fasting, mourning, kinos. And maybe it'll make Tisha b'Av even more real, because we'll still have the taste of Shabbos lingering - but gone - while we step into such a sad day. And it'll be much easier to feel the sadness of Tisha b'Av because of that.

It's hard to mourn over something we've never experienced. But going from Shabbos to Tisha b'Av might help the imagination and stir up feelings of real mourning over an intense relationship with God that we once had.

And hopefully the full geulah will come soon so that by next year, we won't be able to say we don't know what it feels like to have a Beis Hamikdash.


the apple said...

I like the main point of your post, just one nitpicky thing: I would say the term "oneg" is more correct vis-a-vis Shabbat than is "simcha."

Yishaya 58:
יג אִם-תָּשִׁיב מִשַּׁבָּת רַגְלֶךָ, עֲשׂוֹת חֲפָצֶךָ בְּיוֹם קָדְשִׁי; וְקָרָאתָ לַשַּׁבָּת עֹנֶג, לִקְדוֹשׁ יְהוָה מְכֻבָּד, וְכִבַּדְתּוֹ מֵעֲשׂוֹת דְּרָכֶיךָ, מִמְּצוֹא חֶפְצְךָ וְדַבֵּר דָּבָר. 13 If thou turn away thy foot because of the sabbath, from pursuing thy business on My holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, and the holy of the LORD honourable; and shalt honour it, not doing thy wonted ways, nor pursuing thy business, nor speaking thereof;
יד אָז, תִּתְעַנַּג עַל-יְהוָה, וְהִרְכַּבְתִּיךָ, עַל-במותי (בָּמֳתֵי) אָרֶץ; וְהַאֲכַלְתִּיךָ, נַחֲלַת יַעֲקֹב אָבִיךָ--כִּי פִּי יְהוָה, דִּבֵּר. {פ} 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD, and I will make thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and I will feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

I think this fits a little better with your discussion of transition into a ta'anit, which comes from the word oni [ayin nun yud] (affliction), as in תְּעַנּוּ אֶת-נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם (Vayikra 16:29, instructions on Yom Kippur). Affliction seems to me to be a more accurate opposite of enjoyment.

What do you think?

Erachet said...

You're right. I totally was not thinking that in depth about it, I was just contrasting happy with sad in its simplest form, but you're right. :)

the apple said...

Usually I don't either; I just was inspired and felt like doing research :)