Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fasting And The Purpose of Fasting

I hate fast days. Especially the long, hot summer days. It's not like I get hungry, I just ger headaches, I get tired, and I can't concentrate on anything except for an old sitcom on a DVD. Back when I was in camp, some of the nerds played marathon games of Risk on fast days. But to do anything deeper than that? I simply don't have the energy, and I'm sure many people feel the same way. When I was in yeshiva, the mashgiach would give a mussar shmooze before maariv to discuss the inyona d'yoma. I tried going once or twice, very few people showed up, and I fell asleep soon after.

I always feel bad in a way. I can never get emotionally into a fast day, the same way I can feel a Shabbos or Yom Tov. Yom Kippur is different, simply because you're in shul all day, and the tefillos are simply powerful. But a regular fast day? I just feel like crap. And ironically, it's simply because I'm fasting that I feel like I get nothing out of fast days. I've always wondered if it would make more sense for me to eat and be able to concentrate on learning and reading about the issues we're supposed to focus on during a fast. Obviously, you can't do that, but sometimes I think I would get more out of a fast that way.

A big part of the problem: The lack of spirituality among us. How many of us think of our relationship with God? Do any of us feel close to God? After all, Tisha B'Av isn't about mourning the Beis HaMikdash per se, but rather about mourning the lack of Shechina among us and the resulting barrier between us and God.

But to feel that, you have to feel some sort of connection to God. And if you have no connection to God, you have no idea what you're missing. As it is, considering we never experienced life with a Temple, we don't know how much better life would be with it. We can speculate, maybe imagine it somewhat, but it's not the same.

Anyway, may it be God's will that we should fast no longer, and that we celebrate the redemption soon.


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