Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tisha B'av: How do you go to bed?

So unbelievable to be back on the floor again. It feels far, far too familiar. And I don't have anything deep to say this year. No solution to fix the world. The world is such a wreck at the moment I guess I may be too daunted by the task. 

As you know, yesterday was technically Tisha B'av, but it was also shabbos, so we observe the fast and mourn today instead. So we went from the delight of shabbos into a somber reality of sadness.

Shabbos ended, my parents and in-laws went to shul or to their respective apartments, Yoav went to shul and I went to put the girls to bed. Bedtime is late these days because of summer break, but both children had committed to being formal or informal counselors today, helping take care of other kids, so they needed to sleep.

Before they went to bed, we all sat on the floor for a bit and I reviewed the laws of the day with them, and the list of the Big Tragedies of the day. All things they know. Children growing up in Israel know tragedy.

My Sroch started crying. 

We moved into their room, they got into bed. I read them a story from the Mishpacha Jr. magazine, a story about a bus bombing and miraculous survival, the old story of Napoleon's proclamation that a nation still crying 2000 years later will still see the rebuilding. The girls listen and Sroch stops crying and focuses on, "There's hope, Mommy! There's so much hope!"

We speak about time zones, and how it's still shabbos in America but already tomorrow in Australia, and maybe mashiach will come first in Australia but can't come now cause it's still shabbos in America, and so on. 

We say shema. I try to leave the room. Sroch keeps crying.

"Mommy, can you sing a hopeful song?"

So even though at this point in Tisha B'av, strictly speaking, we're not supposed to be focusing yet on hopeful thoughts of redemption, I sing. We Jews have no shortage of sad songs, and thankfully, no shortage of hopeful songs.

It helps. She stops crying, mostly.

I go, eventually they fall asleep.

Some time later I go to bed myself, and I wonder: How do you go to bed the night of a tragedy?

People who lose spouses, children, parents. People stabbed, broken, destitute. People who receive horrible news, the worst news, final news. Within the last couple weeks, two people I know have had to bury babies. Not terror related, just babies who were not meant to live. How did they go to bed that night?

I tried to think of some of the hardest times in my own life - how did I fall asleep those nights? 

...And I don't know.

But soon I found myself asleep, if somewhat fitfully. 

Because God has given us these amazing human brains that can disassociate - forget - push aside. Not always of course, but it is possible.

...The thing is.... Tisha B'av is where we bring it all out, the whole year's worth of "pushed aside"s and that is when we feel the pain. Of the tragedies of last week - last year- last millennium.

Because if it was on our mind every day, all that pain, every day and night - we could never sleep.

So we have one day, one day to sit on the floor with God as we cry and bawl together, as we allow ourselves to feel it, all of it. From stabbings to inquisitions to molesters to the Holocaust to infertility to intifadas to crusaders to cossaks to libels to assimilation to the meraglim and the midbar and the beis hamikdash... and mean girls and hurt feelings and the thousand cruelties of elementary school. All of it.


The only thing I can add is - last night when Sroch was crying, I didn't shh-shh her as I would for her crying for anything else.

This is real.

This is part of being a Jew.

And she's growing up, which means learning to cry on Tisha B'av.