The Independence weekend snuck up on us this year and just as soon as it arrived so did it, in a similar fashion seem to fade away. But it was a wonderful Shabbos and beautiful weekend nevertheless with Shabbos Mevorchim Av the main feature of a few rather overheated days.
Summer has only just begun but as you probably anticipated and as you can see this summer in particular features somewhat of an unusual setup. I mean on one level the summer has just started and boom here we are in the 9 days and mentally gearing up—once again, for Tisha B’Av.
No, I don’t know how many more of these mourning periods we will have to endure until His Divine patience has run its course and He decides that enough of this already. But like good troopers we are up for the task and if this is the way it has to be then—and it has been like this for an awfully long time—then so be it.
Yes it is true that usually the summer picks up some steam and momentum before the three weeks, the nine days and then Tisha B’Av itself hits us. But the way our calendar is set up this year it just does not work out that way. Instead here it is rolled our right here directly in front of us here at the very outset of the summer season.
Aside from it being a prelude to a historical low point on our national calendar it’s additional most distinguishing characteristic is the food we traditionally have trained and programmed ourselves to abstain from and on the flip side the kinds of foods that have become a staple on our 9 days menus.
Perhaps it was once upon a time when you were steeped in some kind of memorial or mourning process that your state of mind would dictate the nature and extent of your appetite and the foods that you would ingest in order to achieve proper nutrition and be sated. But that does not seem to be the case or the reality for many anymore.
The Nine Days on our calendar while still on one level are days of anywhere from deep and sorrowful national mourning to a week and a half of tasty symbolism, still mark a departure of sorts for all. Regardless of your emotions on the matter, for many these days mark a palatable change of sorts. And it is not just these 9 days but rather, as you know, a more expanded three weeks of something being amiss that extends from last month’s 17 of Tamuz through next weeks 9th of Av.
So while the real focus is on the ancient destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem along with an assortment of misfortune that seems to have occurred in and around this difficult period on our calendar, there seems to be a inordinate emphasis on the food or culinary aspect of these few days. That is in addition to the no swimming policy, limiting the laundry process for clothing, not buying new things and so on.
I suppose that different people mark this time of year of what has become mostly symbolic mourning for many in different ways. The obsession or the focus these days is largely channeled by the broadest number of people, in my estimation, in the direction of not what we are eating as much as the kind of foods we are abstaining from. That translates in a fairly simple way to mean that we do not eat meat or poultry except on Shabbos and we do not consume wine—food and drink that is representative of a celebratory mood.
I was perusing the internet the other day when I came across a piece on the subject that says that the Nine Days and its focus on dairy foods is especially difficult on those with milk allergies and who are lactose intolerant. Those folks experiencing difficulties digesting those types of foods approach the dairy foods during the 9 days craze with a little more trepidation and apprehension. For those experiencing this type of challenge the discomfort during these days are potentially additionally difficult. They are the ones who during this period seem to be experiencing real physical pain.
Then I came across an article that discussed the mournful aspects of this week but then discovered that the abbreviated history lesson was really about some intriguing recipe suggestions for the Nine Days. These were some of the suggestions included that either curtails the celebratory type foods or enhance, if you will, the nature of this period in times sorrow.