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After the recent tragedy in Israel, I feel like every day is like how I should feel on Tisha B'Av. Most of the day I can feel tears close to the surface, thinking about the victims, remembering the stories I've read of what happened and the pictures of the families, individuals, children. It feels wrong for life to continue, to sit and eat a meal, to relax and find enjoyment. Intellectually, I know that life must go on and the Rabbonim haven't decreed a fast day or anything, but it feels broken and I feel like I don't know what the process is, what's appropriate now and what isn't.

After my father passed away a few years ago, I followed the halachos of aveilus, including shiva, shloshim and the 11 months of kaddish and restrictions. I knew what to do and what not to do, what was considered appropriate and not. I feel like with this situation, I need something similar, a halachic framework to process it in. I know that we should look for what we can do positively in terms of practical help, mitzvos, introspection, teshuva etc, and I'm trying to, but I'm thinking more in terms of whether there should be restrictions on normal life and what is appropriate to feel at this time. This kind of event is not new in our history, so what sources are there for how to deal with this?

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    There are rabbonim who have recommended fasting for individuals who would utilize that effectively. It's too much to decree on everyone, especially when so many people are in the army or suddenly caring for extra people and wouldn't be able to fast anyway, plus this could easily go on for weeks/months. But remember there's no reason you need to wait for someone to tell you to fast if you are genuinely inspired to do so.
    – Double AA
    Oct 11, 2023 at 12:42
  • Prayer for the Israeli Defense Forces: youtu.be/okPgafiZnEQ Oct 11, 2023 at 16:51
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    Rending clothes and blessing דין האמת are the classical responses to military tragedy (see YD 340:36)
    – Double AA
    Oct 11, 2023 at 21:44

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If you haven't already, please see What should one do to help Israel during war?.

We are all dazed and struggling to find the words. We also don't want to just say nothing, so I guess I will make an attempt, for me, and if it happens to speak to anyone else...

Did you know that we are not allowed to ever listen to any music1? This is part of a series of halachot that we are commanded in to ensure that we are always mourning.

So, we are already always mourning, for the recent tragedies and those that are past. If our leaders ask us to take upon ourselves extra mourning like fasting and teshuva, then that is our avodah. As you have said, they have not done so (some Rabbonim have been organising selichot). This might be because they are looking back at the Yom Kippur War, and our leadership at the time told us to not fast, but rather to continue doing the avodah of Tishrei: be b'simcha.

Being b'simcha is a real avodah right now, because it is so hard2 - yet it is so vital. Your opening paragraph captures the feelings of all of the nation and that proves how hard it is. In the merit of this avodah, and the tzara it takes to perform this avodah, as well as the additional learning, mitzvot, prayer, tzeddaka and chesed, we can tangibly help the situation. Literally, a learning a pasuk can save a life! I would argue that being b'simcha can also save a life. If everyone you know is crying, what can make you have hope? But if there is even one person who is able to be positive, optimistic, unwavering and reassuring, they will light up everyone around them and that also can literally save lives.

This is anecdotal but I will say I've heard it dozens of times now from Jews everywhere around the world. The very moment they stood up and started helping each other was the moment they were able to cope and deal with the trauma. For some the chesed will be going and packing food, or helping someone with their baby, or shopping for batteries and blankets for the IDF. For others it is additional Torah and mitzvot, kavana and tefillot. We are all obligated to inspire each other, especially our bretheren in Eretz Yisrael, with courage and hope.

We are not victims3, we don't rot in yi'ush, and we feel the fear without letting it paralyse us, so let's keep the mourning in our hearts and carry on, until our leaders tell us otherwise. Let's just get up and do what our nation does best: serve. Time to serve each other, our brothers in danger, our family and friends, and our God. This will accomplish more than any amount of mourning can accomplish, and will show the world how bright a light unto the nations we really are, who never give up hope that the mourning will end forever.

Chazak Ve'Amatz!


1. See this article, which lists the leniences that some follow
2. Explained better than I can in this shiur by Rabbi Paltiel
3. Rabbi Manis Friedman commented in a recent (very refreshing, and unique) Q&A to someone who said they were finding it hard to daven and learn, that part of the problem could be that it feels absurd to our core that we should be sitting and begging for our lives. And this is right: it is absurd. We are a miraculous nation, who Hashem describes every individual as to Him like the only child to elderly parents. We are not learning and saying tehillim out of begging, but out of the conviction that we are mighty, and we are giving our might through learning and davening to tangibly helping our nation, and the world.

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I read your question just after I saw the announcement for a TA'ANIT TZIBBUR: A DAY OF COMMUNAL FASTING.

https://info.hadar.org/taanit-tzibbur

As you will see, those involved have an array of halachic outlooks.

And if you were already inclined to fast, then doing so together with members of the broader Jewish community can only be for the better.

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    Not sure this answers the question. Is this fast day intended as a form of mourning?
    – Double AA
    Oct 11, 2023 at 21:45
  • The fast was not as a day of mourning. But having participated, it very much fell into the sphere of what Rabbi Kaii discussed in his answer above. While I and many others cried as mourners, we also cried as those with broken hearts praying to Hakadosh Barcuh Hu. The words of Avinu Malkenu never had as much meaning to me as they did yesterday. צוּר יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגוֹאֲלוֹ בָּרֵךְ אֶת מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל Oct 13, 2023 at 14:18

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