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 There is no doubt that the saddest day on the Jewish calendar is the commemoration of the fast day of the ninth of Av. The day marks the days of destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem millennia ago. It also harbors within it the commemoration of many other sad and tragic events throughout Jewish history. From the original reluctance of the Jewish people to enter the land of Israel while they were still under Godly protection in the desert of Sinai, until the signs of the outbreak of the horrendous world wars of the past century, this day has served as the focal date of Jewish sadness and mourning.

The Jewish people as a nation has suffered so much and so greatly throughout its history that to commemorate the dates of our various tragedies would probably occupy all the days of the year. In order that life should continue and that the burden of our sadness should somehow be relieved and made more bearable, the commemoration of tragedy and the emotions that such remembrances automatically engender are to be concentrated on in this one sad, fast day of the ninth of Av.
Because the ninth of Av falls on the day of the holy Sabbath this year, the actual day of sadness is postponed till the next day. However the Talmud notes that there is opinion that even the 10th day of Av should be observed as a day of sadness and it is done so partially every year and fully this year.
One of the great tests in life is the ability to adjust to and handle grief and tragedy. For most humans, days of grief and sadness are unavoidable events, especially if one is blessed with years and age. Jewish tradition and law mandates that specific behavior be reflected at such difficult times. The observances of rituals are psychologically and emotionally beneficial to the mourner and allows a certain sense of perspective to govern our lives and reactions.
The Jewish people have mourned the destruction of Jerusalem for centuries on end. They did so even when there was no opportunity to attempt to restore and rebuild the Jewish presence in the holy city. Nevertheless, Jews never abandoned their vision of returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding and refurbishing it. When such a vision seemed to be hopeless, it was the observance of tradition and ritual and the words of the prophets and great poets of Israel that sustained the Jewish people so that eventually that vision of restoration and rebuilding would be actualized, as it has been in our generation.
There is no other comparable story in all the annals of human civilization. The grief is always tempered by the acceptance of God's will, by the realization of eternity and by the natural optimism that is part of the Jewish personality. The Jews always proclaimed that this saddest day of the year would somehow eventually be transformed into a day of joy and rejoicing.
What that day joy and rejoicing will look like, I have no idea. I ruefully think that the Jewish people will find it difficult to give up this saddest day of the year and transform it into a day of happiness. This sad day has been around for so long and is such an integral part of our religious life and calendar year that just as it was difficult for us to imagine Jerusalem rebuilt in our dark exile, so too is it difficult for us to imagine a Jewish year without this day as one of its components.
I think that the change in our emotions and attitude will undoubtedly be a gradual one and that it will require a period of adjustment just as the recovery from personal grief and tragedy does. It will always be a day of recall and memory even if it will be celebrated as a day of joy and redemption. It will be the supreme test of our ability to rise from grief and tragedy and advance to great accomplishment and optimism.
Our future is always shaped by our past and this will necessarily occur when the ninth of Av will be treated as a holiday and not as a day of fasting and morning. Nevertheless, this day will carry with it the events of Jewish history, which in turn will make the restoration of Jerusalem even more wondrous and miraculous in our eyes and in the eyes of the whole world.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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