"Don't tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is."

I believe in God.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Paradox of Av

Today is Rosh Hodesh Av, the start of the Hebrew month of Av.  Rosh Hodesh is always a day (or sometimes two days) for relaxation and celebration.  Extra prayers are added, which is always fun for me.  Traditionally Rosh Hodesh was a women's holiday, when they lightened their workload; in honor of that, I wear jewelry and use my Sabbath-Holiday-and-Special-Occasion fancy bobby pins to attach my kippah to my head.

And yet Rosh Hodesh Av is a paradox, because in just under a week and a half (nine days, to be exact) we will be mourning the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem.  The first Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, the second in 70 CE, on the same day.  For 25 hours we will fast; abstain from washing, lotion, and jewelry; and refrain from wearing leather shoes.  We will read Megillat Eicha, the scroll of Lamentations.

Last year on the eve of this day of mourning (known as Tisha b'Av), I went to the local Orthodox synagogue, the only place where a reading of Eicha was happening.  I am the only one in my family who observes this day, and I did not want to go it alone.  I was angered, however, by what happened at that service.  Traditionally, we sit on the floor while Eicha is being read; because of the barrier between the men and the women (present in every Orthodox synagogue) I could not see a thing.  Also, the people who chanted the words could not do so in a compelling, gripping manner.

With all that in mind, this year I have decided to do Tisha b'Av on my own.  I will read Eicha out loud to myself, first in English and then in Hebrew, in the evening, and possibly again in the morning.  There is no specific commandment to hear Eicha, so I have room to maneuver and find what works for me.

Yet today is Rosh Hodesh.  Today we are happy; indeed, today we are celebrating.  I will put Tisha b'Av from my mind until the day is comes.  Time enough for that when it happens.

And that is the paradox of Av.

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I am a bipolar, Jewish young adult (had my Hebrew birthday, the one I count, and turned 23 this past January) who also suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I love life and I live for my best friends: they are my purpose and my reason for trying so hard. I remain passionately devoted to those I love; I will not let my disorders make me totally self-centered. I like to read, write, and sew. My Rabbinical school plans did not work out, and I am now hoping to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. Please note: I am currently maintaining only Carried in His Hands. Enjoy!