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August 6, 2014 / conservadox

My crazy Tisha’b’Av

In Manhattan, I would take the subway to shul X for Tisha’b’Av night and then take the subway to shul Y for Tisha’b’Av day.  But in my suburbanized new city, everything has to be a hassle- especially if you don’t have a car and don’t want to rent one for the whole period (which I thought about doing and then unwisely decided was unnecessary).

Monday night I didn’t think I needed to rent a car and go to suburbia.  In my city there are only three congregations in the city limits (and thus covered by the city’s bus lines, since here in the outback the suburbs have their own transit which stops running after rush hour): Chabad and two Reform or Reform-leaning congregations.  Chabad and the more classical Reform congregation aren’t doing anything- I guess the Chabad rabbi wanted to go to the suburbs where there are more people.  I saw on the more traditional Reform congregation’s website that they were doing something at the rabbi’s house (which was mentioned on the website).  (I didn’t even now Reform congregations acknowledged Tisha’b’Av but this is on the traditional side of Reform).    It turned out that (1) the website had the time wrong and (2) I got slightly lost and walked around for half an hour trying to find the rabbi’s house so that I would have been half an hour late even had I gotten the time right so (3) I missed everything but some conversation which had nothing to do with Tisha’b’Av.  So I did eicha at home – not remembering the melody so I had to kind of guess.  (Maybe next year I’ll ask a rabbi if the custom of not listening to music applies to Eicha on Youtube).  If I had to do it again I probably would have rented a car and gone to the suburbs.

Tuesday was not perfect but much better. I took the suburban bus to the region’s major Orthodox congregation; I knew that I wasn’t going to get there in time for the morning minyan, but figured they’d be doing kinot till noon or so.  Wrong!  I got there at 8:45 and they were done with everything.  Fortunately they didn’t lock up completely; the beit midrash was open and they had a OU video feed about kinot in the rabbi’s office so I could stay awhile.  I read kinot for half an hour or so, then watched the video feed for awhile.  Then I walked to the nearest public library (about a 30 minute walk) and read a book and a half- I usually read a lot of Jewish history related to Tisha’b’Av (i.e. about oppression of the Jews in some way) during Tisha’b’Av and the weeks prior.  I spent most of the afternoon there, then walked back to shul for mincha and maariv.  After the fast was over I walked for an hour or so and then took a cab home (a surprisingly reasonable $15 including tip for a six mile ride!)

Tisha’b’Av is not supposed to be easy- and this time it was definitely comfortable for me than usual- not just because of logistics but also physically, since I decided to take my chances with the heat and walk around a bit.  But much to my surprise, I was able to handle it.  As usual, the first few hours of the fast were actually the hardest- I didn’t feel much hunger during the day (though I did have a slight headache for some of the early afternoon, not sure why).  I guess I learned that my body is capable of more than I thought it was. 

Is that particularly relevant to Tisha’b’Av?  Not in an abstract spiritual sense, but I suppose in the sense that the events surrounding the destruction of the Temples involved physical deprivation. 

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