Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Tish'a B'av

This is the greeting offered by one of my co-workers. Well, I admit, it did make me chuckle. I then explained to her the meaning (as I understand it) of Tish'a b'av, the whole destruction of the Temples thing, and all the awful things that have befallen the Jews over the centuries. But it got me to (continued?) thinking. This whole Judaism thing is really tough. Trying to find ways to inject meaning into things that happened a millenium ago is not easy. So last night we did what we often do on Tish'a B'av, try to figure out where to go. After all, it is one of the very few "holidays" where if you are observant, you can go to the "away ballpark", wherever that is. So the search for which orthodox synagogue in the New York area will provide the most meaningful, spiritual services begins in earnest, a few days before. This year, it was to be Darchei Noam, the egalitarian orthodox synagogue that meets at the Heschel School in Manhattan. In years gone by, it has been The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, (Avi Weiss' Shul), The Hebrew Institute of White Plains. (Maybe I should have gotten a clue when all the places we were going were "institutes" like, short for institution) I think the most "fun" we had at a shul was the Spanish Portuguese Synagogue in Manhattan, with customs dating back two centuries in New York, and going much farther back. So it was determined that we would see what Darchei Noam had to offer in the spirituality department, since we have had such great experiences at Shira Chadasha in Jerusalem. All that was before the "TOE". You see, a few days ago, my wife stepped on a piece of glass in our home. After two visits to the podiatrist, she was not having a great amount of relief. So yesterday, after speaking to a colleague whose husband is a pediatrician, he suggested that she come see him to remove, what she was sure, was more glass in her foot. It was appropriate, of course, since my wife is, how shall we say, a bit of a reluctant patient. So seeing a pediatrician, with his soothing, patient demeanor would be comforting. So off we went, at about 4:00, to see Harry, the Pediatrician. After what seemed like an eternity, he was able to remove what was, in fact, a small piece of glass or two, and off we hobbled, my wife wounded, but on the whole, much better, we believed.

Unfortunately, the trek into the City was now going to be postponed, since the pain, and the impending tornadoes were threatening to put a damper on our plans. So after our ritual seudah mafseket trip to our pre-tish'a b'av restaurant in Westchester County, we made the decision to return home, to our less than ho-hum synagogues to hear the reading of Eicha. Disappointed that I would not have a tish'a b'av experience, and no women reading Eicha that night, (alright, call me a heretic) i suggested to my wife that perhaps we skip the shul reading of Eicha, and instead, do it ourselves. And that is exactly what we did. We went home, and after completing the evening prayers, we sat down, my wife with her injured foot elevated, and me on the floor, in typical tish'a b'av fashion, we dimmed the lights, and I began. Toward the end, my wife took over, beautifully chanting the last two chapters of Eicha.

I had found a way to make it spiritual, after all.


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