Monday, July 16, 2012

Tisha B'Av Customs From Czechoslovakia & Germany Remind Us How Important This Day Is

Reciting Eicha – Lamentations – while sitting at the foot of the Wailing Wall is the ultimate way to express grief over our Temples' destruction. That is, if you live in Israel or happen to be visiting. Unfortunately, most Jews do not have easy access to the Wall, so it takes a lot of creative thinking to come up with comparable customs.

This is where looking back at our rich Jewish heritage comes into play. Thinking out of the box was definitely part of it, and the amount of customs I have found for Tisha B'Av is amazing.

I'm going to focus on the two I especially appreciate.
Czech Jews did not wait until the reading of Lamentations to sit on the floor. They began showing signs of mourning during the last meal before the fast, which fittingly consisted of only a hard boiled egg and a slice of bread -- eaten while sitting on the floor.

German Jews had an even more original approach. While praying at the synagogue on Tisha B'Av the Torah scroll was placed on the back of an elderly man, bent over and looking at the floor. The symbolic meaning of this act was to show that while it is hard to be a Jew, we stubbornly persist and survive despite the suffering.

Tisha B'Av is a central date in the collective memory that has kept us going. Pass on its meaning and its customs to your children, grandchildren and students, even though it doesn't coincide with the school year.

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