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Tisha BAv is considered the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. Many tragedies took place on this day, including the destruction of the Temples, due to our sins. Hence, on this day, we are awakened to repent as a people. As such, I worry about fasting.
What truly bothers me during this time of mourning is the idea of not being able to eat cream cheese and lox. Not even a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. After five hours of fasting, I'm not worried about the destruction of the Temples. I'm worried about starving. and even worse, losing weight.
This Tisha BAv, I don’t want you to be worried about not eating. I want to give you the tools to be focused on the destruction and how we can work towards the rebuilding of the next Temple.
Today, we shall focus on pregaming the fast, and what to do afterwards.
Gorge Before the Fast
Eat a lot. This is the way to make it through a fast.
The tradition before Tisha BAv is to sit on the floor and to eat an egg and bread with ashes, to commemorate the destruction. I have never filled up on eggs and ashes. Thus, I have another meal before that, to commemorate the fear of eating an egg and bread, and the greater fear of not eating for a day. I also commomate chairs during that meal, by sitting on one.
You're not going to be eating for around twenty-five hours. I don’t know when starvation begins. I don’t know how much the body needs to survive. I do know that I love breakfast. You're going to be missing out on breakfast and lunch. There are snacks, such as Snickers and Chex party mix, and fruit pies. You'll be missing those. I love that Chex party mix with the pretzels. It’s like a salty non-cereal cereal. Amazing. I might even be missing out on a nice peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. Thinking about not eating, that all seems so much tastier.
Eat it all before the fast. You don’t want to miss out on any meal because the Temple was destroyed. The pre-fast meal should be a full day’s worth of snack, pasta, cereal, pastry and whatever else causes a headache. That or sitting on the floor with an egg and ashes. I'm not going to judge.
I am not knocking ashes. They just don’t fill me up. Ashes are not a staple in my diet. However, they are an excellent condiment.
Gorge After the Fast
The two pillars of the Jewish fast: gorging before and gorging after.
The goal of the fast is to put on weight. The gorging after technique allows you to catch up on any accidental loss of poundage. Allowing you to continue in your goal of being a good Jew.
The post fast meal should consist of eggs, cream cheese and bagels. You should also fill up on all dairy products you missed when gorging before the fast. Eat quiches, lasagna, fettuccine alfredo, blintzes and anything else you ate on Shavuot. Be sure to also have cheesecake. Remember, you're making up for all the food you did not eat that day. And that includes everything.
The Temples were destroyed. We want to bookend that with food. Otherwise, there's no way you'll enjoy the commemorating the destruction.
Don’t let the fast day be the reason you don’t repent and become thin. I don’t know if kids are still starving in Japan, but we should think about them and eat. That is what my mother and Weird Al taught me.
It's about being a good Jew. Being heavy shows that you ate when your parents told you to, and that you have kept the mitzvah of delighting in the holidays and Shabbat. Everything else is commentary. That is what I say when people ask me to give over the whole Torah to them, on one leg.
The main idea is to not lose weight when you fast. Don't worry about the Temple. Just make sure you eat enough before and after the fast. It's that feeling of full that will initiate the building of the Third Temple.
Next time, we'll talk about different methods of not going hungry during the fast, and how to plan being sick, or your pregnancy, so you can eat. There is a lot more to learn. This Tisha BAv, focus on the Before and After Method.
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(photo: Adam Jones, seen on Wikipedia)