29 June 2010

3 weeks

today marks the beginning of the 3 weeks. its the 17th of Tammuz. a day that is kept as a fast day by jews all over the world. during these 3 weeks it is forbidden to hold a wedding, to cut hair, or to wear new clothes. and from rosh chodesh av (the first day of the next lunar month) we count 9 days to the fast day of tisha báv. the only fast day other than yom kippur - the day of atonement - to last from sundown to sundown. many people refrain from eating meat for the 9 days, which is apparantly a difficult and stressful experience for the true carnivore!

today is the day that the romans besieging jerusalem breached the walls and entered the city. it took 3 weeks of battle, death and carnage for the romans to reach the temple and destroy the greatest of jewish holy places. this was on the 9th of Av. on the 9th of Av many other catoastrophes have occured. these include:
586 BCE - destruction of the 1st temple
70 CE - destruction by the romans of the 2nd temple
135 CE - capture of the last jewish fortress standing
1492 - the expulsion of the jews from spain
1914 - the outbreak of WW1

the fast of tisha bÁv is held as a day of mourning for all the jews who have died in massacres, wars, the holocaust. unlike yom-kippur it is not about personal repentance. rather it is a national day to commemorate those who have gone before.

i'm finding it hard to find a way to talk with my children about these days. slavery and freedom at pesach was difficult enough - but how does one talk about massacres, violence, expulsions, distruction with small children? for this year i'm playing it low key. we've talked a little about the city of jerusalem, how important it is to us. and the fact that it was destroyed and that we were sent away from it. i'm planning on sending Y (who'll be 4 by then) to shul/synagogue with his father. there he will see all the adults sitting on the floor, wearing non-leather shoes and i'm hoping that his questions will help me to find some way to discuss such difficult topics with him.

in the meantime, its the symbols that are important. the non-leather shoes, the hardboiled egg that is the last food before the fast, the low chairs, the lack of music. maybe, as they grow, my children will find their own answers.

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