That’s pretty much all I have to say about fast days. It’s not even the not eating/drinking. (Although waking up at 6.30am with what feels like a dehydration headache already was a fun surprise.) It’s boring isnt it? And there is nothing more boring than Tisha B’Av. Admit it. Fine if you wont, I will. I dont want to sit at home on the floor all day mourning the Beit Hamikdash. Not becuase I’m not sad about it, and not because I’m anti Mashiach. Just because it’s a really long, hot, tiring day even without all that added misery. I get it, I’m miserable. You would be also if your ten month old was stuffing in fistfuls of cheerios like popcorn and making his new favourite ‘eeee’ sound while you clutch an aching head and your husband waves out the door to work and distraction and adult company. So do I need to pop in Schindlers List on top of that? No not really.
Instead I’ll give you some fast day memories of mine. Kind of apt for this week as I used to spend every fast day with my Dad due to his not fasting b/c of his diabetes.
I remember the first fast day I ever tried. I must have been about 10 or 11. It was definitety Tisha B’Av because I know we went to Shul in the evening. So by this point I’ve been fasting for oh I dont know, 2 hours? And the novelty of feeling grown up has kind of worn off. And I’m pretty thirsty. So while I’m lying in bed, and the lights are about to go out, ten year old me tries to make a bargain between me and my Dad that Hashem really doesnt have to know about.
“How about if I just have a quick drink of water and thats it?”
“Thats it, you’ve broken the fast?”
“No, I dont want to break the fast…”
“Ok then, night night sweetie”
“But I really AM thirsty… ”
“Should I get you some water”
“And then what?”
“And then you can try again on Yom Kippur”
If I remember rightly this went on for a while without him getting my ‘clever loophole’.. (just one drink!) and I must have fallen asleep eventually. I think I lasted until about midday. Looking back, it makes me remember him fondly. You either do something properly, or not at all. I like that.
One thing I know I can never forget is how he felt the first time he had to be at the hospital for dialysis on Yom Kippur. Up until then he had been there a few times on yomtov, which was hard enough, but I knew that the idea of not being in shul on YK morning broke his heart.
I wish I could have told him then what I realise now, that while the rest of us were standing in shul, praying for life, he was experiencing the biggest blessing of all, the miracle of life physically given to him. And Hashem couldnt have and wouldnt have wanted it any other way.