So, I’ve been sitting here in my backyard, sipping scotch, waiting for Shabbat to begin and pondering the interesting conflict we have this year between Shabbat and Tisha B’Av. You see, Shabbat is all about joy, yet Tisha B’Av is all about lamentation. On Shabbat we are not supposed to fast yet on Tisha B’Av we are mandated to fast. So, what do we do?
Not surprisingly, The rabbis have an answer to everything. Unlike most Shabbats, where it is a mitzvah to have sexual relations with your spouse, on this Shabbat you are not supposed to. You are also not supposed to read any parts of Torah on Saturday afternoon unless they are parts specifically permitted on Tisha B’Av. You’re supposed to do the Tisha B’Av stuff on Sunday. But, you’re not supposed to have a mournful separation meal before the fast that you begin on Saturday night.
I have a feeling that all of that means very little in the Reform Jewish movement. Still, it seems like you need to treat this Shabbat and Sunday in a special way.
Basically, one thing I think we can share is that Shabbat joy cannot be diminished. That is the number one holiday in the Jewish calendar. And, moving the mourning to Sunday is not an Earth-shattering proposition. So, that’s all you seem to really need to worry about.
But I have come up with one more thing that I think is important. We’re going to do our usual mourning by reading the book of Lamentations on Sunday. But one of the things we should focus on in the joy that we express during this Shabbat is the joy of knowing that after all the horrors we’ve been through and all the millennia when the Jews have been persecuted, expelled, tortured, hated, and murdered, we still exist!
There has been plenty of evil in the world over thousands of years and there will continue to be evil over thousands more. But, despite the evil and despite the hatred, the Jewish people have continued to persevere even in the face of genocide and even in the face of the anti-Semitism that exists around the world today.
If that’s not a reason for Sabbath joy then I don’t know what is.