"May your ears hear what your ears are hearing"

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Location: Kochav Yaacov, Israel

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Guest Columnist -- Tisha B'Av 5781

(Due to extreme exhaustion I was unable to make my usual post this year.  Here are some wise words from my youngest daughter, Tehila.)

For the past several years, every year on Tish’a B’av, I read Megilat Eicha – I have never fasted well, so to expend energy to go to Shul to hear it would leave me suffering so that I couldn’t focus on the reason – and as I read, I would cry.

Now I tend to get emotional around this time of year, as Tish’a B’av approaches, and our failure to bring Mashiach and rebuild the Beit Hamikdash becomes increasingly evident.

This year, however, is very different for me, all for the reason that I am a new mother. I hardly felt the approach of this day, and have been feeling no worse than usual, which I have attributed to being so thoroughly preoccupied with caring for a baby.

This year, shortly after lighting Shabbat candles, I was sitting on the couch, nursing my 11 week old son and firstborn. I turned to my husband, who was running late for Shul, and in a shaky voice and with tears in my eyes, I told him I didn’t think I could read Megilat Eicha this year. Looking at my son, so innocent and wonderful, such a miracle and gift, I was on the verge of crying just thinking about the atrocities covered in Eicha. My husband said not to torture myself, especially given my history of depression and the hard time I’ve been having postpartum. So rather than reading Eicha, when Shabbat ended, I began reading the book of Iyov – a Tish’a B’av tradition I started a number of years ago – and I found myself feeling almost overwhelmingly sad. Iyov curses the day of his birth, wishing he died that day, and wondering why Hashem lets live those who are to suffer rather than taking them at birth, or even at the time of conception. As a mother, that thought is excruciating. The thought of my baby being given to me and taken from me in the same instant leaves me to shudder, and to those who have been through it may Hashem console. Still, for Iyov to have been so miserable as to wish his life away, I imagine such a situation is also excruciating for a parent.

I think it’s now, that I am a parent that the potency of what we have and what we lack is at it’s peak. The fear my child will live in a world that can be so painful, that lacks the holiness Hashem has promised, and wants to give us. In years to come, when my son is of age, he too will be fasting and mourning on this day unless we should be redeemed before then. My desire to keep my son from experiencing the sadness of this day and of the suffering of the world, and the sadness that his children, too, will share that sadness, serves as a powerful motivator to do better. I will try to be slightly kinder day to day. I will try to be more patient, more understanding. I will try to be slower to anger and more swift to forgive. I will try to better walk in the way of Hashem. I believe that is all anyone can ask of me, so I believe that it is the way – rather than anything grand – to bring the Geula. I hope, pray, and try hard to that end, that my son shall never experience the sadness we feel today.