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Forms of Mourning: Fasting I: How We Eat Print E-mail

Churban"When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.  But he went only as far as the king's gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1-3).”

 

There are many forms of mourning in the Bible; fasting, crying, wailing/Misped, sackcloth and ashes, and, not mentioned in these verses, Kinah, or, lamentation. I intend to post a series of practical exercises for Tisha B’Av based on these different forms of mourning. We will now begin Fasting:

In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of God came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev.

The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melech, together with their men, to entreat God by asking the priests of the house of God, Master of Legions and the prophets, "Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?"

Then the word of God, Master of Legions came to me:

"Ask all the people of the land and the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?

And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves?

Are these not the words God proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?' "

And the word of God came again to Zechariah:

"This is what God, Master of Legions says:

'Administer true justice;

show mercy and compassion to one another.

Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.

In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'

"But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears.

They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that God, Master of Legions had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So God, Master of Legions was very angry.

'When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,' says God, Master of Legions.

'I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.' (Zechariah, Chapter 7)"

Zechariah challenges the fasts of the people who remained in Babylon rather than return to rebuild Jerusalem by asking them how they ate!

What does God look for in the way we eat and fast?

'Administer true justice;

show mercy and compassion to one another.

Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.

In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'

This Tisha B’Av fasting is to repair the times we ate, enjoyed our possessions, without considering the plight of those who do not have what to eat. It is fasting to repair the moments when we lacked mercy and compassion. It is fasting to express our sorrow and regret over not having fought for true justice. It is fasting, and having a sense of nothing, to repair the times we thought evil of each other in our hearts.

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