Tisha B’Av and Complacency

An essential aspect of Jewish Time Management is being in touch with the spiritual energy of time.  The Jewish idea of time is that it is neither linear nor cyclical, but has aspects of both.  Time moves forward; however, as the calendar cycles through the year, different points in time have different spiritual energy.  These cycles repeat week after week, month after month, or year after year as time progresses. 

By way of example each day of the week has a particular energy attached to it.  So too, the times of the month have different spiritual energy.  The Jewish people themselves are compared to the moon, which waxes and wanes.  As the moon gets larger in its cycle, our potential increases.  Our potential then recedes, renews, and increases again.

Likewise, each month has a particular energy attached to it, and different points in time – marked as holidays – have unique spiritual energy attached to them.  This is the concept of Moed.  Different points in time are auspicious for different types of spiritual growth; different holidays come to mitakein (to fix) different aspects of the human condition. 

This week begins Rosh Chodesh Av – the new month of Av.  In Jewish time, as Av begins, joy decreases.  The spiritual energy of this period is considered fraught with danger.  As a result, risky activities are discouraged.  This negative energy reaches is climax on the ninth day of the month – Tisha B’Av. 

The unique aspect of Tisha B’Av is mourning.  Now it might seem strange that a time period should be focused on mourning.  However, mourning is an essential aspect of the human condition.  In fact, mourning gives meaning to living.  After all, it is through loss that we gain a real appreciation of what we have lost and what we have. 

The Ramban asked:  If death is natural, why should people mourn?  He responded that mourning comes as a human response precisely to the fact that death is not natural – death was not meant to be part of existence.  In the Garden of Eden, there was no death.  Death came afterward as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve.  When we mourn, we recognize that life is not meant to be this way.  Something is missing; something is lacking. 

When we mourn at this time of year, we are striving to recognize that life in general and our lives in particular are not all that they should be.   Life has the potential to be so much more, and we cry because we realize that we have something less.  We are mourning of our failure to reach our potential as individuals and as a nation.  To the degree that we may have become complacent and accepted life as it is, without striving toward the ideal, that is a lacking in ourselves.  It is this lacking, which this time period comes to correct.

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 31st, 2011 at 6:16 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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