Thursday, August 7, 2008

Being Decisive: Tisha B'av

Even in my least religious moments, I've always seen a justification for fasting on Tisha B'av.

Unlike Yom Kippur, it doesn't necessarily (at least the way I understand it) have to do with a belief in God. Well, I suppose the idea really is that in the end God's going to bring moshiach... But what I mean is - you needn't believe in God for Tisha B'av to have meaning.

The fast day is all about remembering and mourning all the tragedies in our nation's history - more specifically, about morning the tragedies of our ancestors. I've always understood it that way. And so it always made sense to me to follow it.

But here's the thing: fasting makes me sick. More than anybody else I know. While no doctor has ever told me not to fast (I've never asked!), I have a tendency to become hypoglycemic, and fasting means that I literally cannot move from the couch for at least the last 10 hours. It also means a good 10 hour recovery time post-fast.

Last year, I had a particularly bad attack of hypoglycemia, broke my fast on orange juice, and then continued to fast afterward.

But this year, I'm making the decision before the fast even begins that I will not fast. I won't go out, party, and order myself a chocolate cheese cake either, but I won't fast.

I'm going to commemorate the day in my own way - keep things serious, eat only as much as necessary. But I don't see the point anymore of following the tradition as is, simply because it's tradition, if the said tradition renders me completely and utterly unable to move.

And I think, just maybe, this is the way the rest of my outlook on Judaism/tradition/what-the- hell-I'm-going-to-do-with-my-life-religiously is starting to shape up. We shall see.