Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tisha B'Av, why bother fasting?

I've always had a problem with Tisha B'Av. Given the Bible's account of the behavior of the Jews during the last years of the Kingdom of Judah, the destruction of the Temple and the political sovereignty of the Davidic dynasty was a just and proper action for God to take, and may have actually prevented the Jews from becoming just another vanished petty kingdom of antiquity. And given the Sinat hinam and Jewish terrorism during the last days of the Second Temple, God's judgement was also appropriate. So why the tearing out fo the heair, and especially, why the fasting.?

Well, one might argue that we're not so much mourning the destruction of petty kingdoms and Holy Barbecues, we're mourning our fellow rank-and-file Jews who had to suffer death and disposesssion because of the actions of their leaders. But as anybody who has spent any time at a shiva house knows, fasting is not a characteristic of Jewish mourning. So what's the deal with Tisha B'Av? Why mess up a perfectly good summer with such practices? Why not just sing a few kinot at daily davening (and on the Shabbos before, for the benefit fot he one-day-a week Jews; after all, they have the "eleh ezkara" on Yom Kippur for the on-day-a-year Jews), and have a nice little fire-and brimstone d'rash dfrom the rabbi warning us about political and spiritual arrognace, and then have a nice kiddush in memory of the victims? If I had the misfortune of being a victim, I'd rather have my memory commemrated by people having a good time, not fasting all day in the middle of the summer, getting dehydrated and becomming all cranky.

So I say, let's eat up on Tisha B'Av, and let the good time roll in memory of our blessed ancestors who had to die for the sins of the leaders of teh Jewish people.


Anonymous Neo-Conservaguy said...

It's not that there isn't a part of me that feels exactly the same way. But, aside from the respect due to the enactment of this observance, how about the fact that a simple look around the world - real and Internet - shows not much less Sinat hinam. These days the daggers of the assassins are largely words, but none the less, a good long fast on a hot day might just be a necessary thing for Am Yisrael at this point in time. I look forward to that not being true.

Kol tuv, have an easy fast,


10:26 AM  
Anonymous onionsoupmix said...

I personally don't understand why the temple couldn't have been destroyed in the winter, when the days are shorter and the fasts more tolerable.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous woodrow said...

Can't we acknowledge that the world is full of misery just ONCE without people telling us to be more positive?

(See the July 27 post on my blog at
to see the same sentiments expressed in song)

2:17 AM  
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