Fasting and not on Tisha B’Av.
I have always thought Tisha B’Av (which commemorates various calamities experienced by the Jews), was the worst Jewish holiday. You are not supposed to enjoy things on this day, which ended at sundown on Tuesday. I slept on the floor without a pillow, abstained from caloric food and drink, did not wear leather shoes at work, avoided greeting people …
However, my fasting was not all it ought to be and was considerably less (except the sleeping on the floor part) than what I do for Yom Kippur (the Jewish day of atonement). I went to work, drank non-caloric liquids, wore antiperspirant, showered, biked to work, worked, and probably a few other things I ought not have done.
While I feel some guilt, I don’t feel much. Tisha B’Av is, in some ways, an un-Jewish Jewish holiday. The Jewish spirit is not defined by lamenting our suffering, but by overcoming it. It is not about wallowing in death and pain, but in celebrating life. So, my failure is, in some ways, an expression of my Jewish spirit.
However, this year, I had two friends recount good memories of past experiences during Tisha B’Av. We read Eicha (Lamentations) by candlelight in a beautiful service. The melody of Eicha captures the mood in a stirring way. I am not sure I will believe it is not the worst holiday, but these friends deserve credit for giving it new light.