In Judaism, we're very comfortable (and experienced) at commemorating and reliving our community's sufferings. In many ways, our historical holidays (Passover, Hanukkah, and the like) are meant to stimulate a therapeutic re-experiencing of trauma. At Passover we recall that we too were slaves, at Hanukkah we feel the very same miraculous light of millennia ago.

To force an emotional response from reconstructed suffering may be a bit contrived, but it has it benefits. The most extreme example of this phenomenon is undoubtedly Tisha b'Av. The day on which both ancient Temples were destroyed along with a precipitously coincidental list of other calamities (the Inquisition began on this day, and the Wannsee Conference decided the 'Final Solution' on the same), is perhaps the hardest to recreate.

To feel our ancestors' suffering we act as though we are mourning. For 25 hours we neither eat nor drink, we sit on the floor in shoddy shoes, singing dark poetry commemorating the many tragedies of the day. I used to think this was bonkers- but as time goes on I've begun to appreciate it.

If we cannot learn how to relive the darkest days then we cannot surpass them. The power of Tisha b'Av is not that it helps us relive ancient suffering for a full day, but that that day of suffering, inevitably, ends. Another day begins. Every year. Annually, we have the opportunity to experience what it means to emerge from darkness and misery and continue on. If that's not excellent practise for the practice of life, then I'm not sure what is.

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