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I am struggling a bit on Tisha b'Av to find meaningful ways to spend the day. I am looking for advice on meaningful activities that fulfill the intent of the day (mourning for Jerusalem and the various destructions, repentance).

My practice up to now has been to daven early as usual, recite the kinnot in shul with the tzibur, stay behind to learn some of the kinnot not recited by the tzibur, then learn some Tisha b'Av compliant material (e.g., in recent years The Story of Tisha B'Av by R Aryeh Kaplan, Responsa from the Holocaust by R Ephraim Oshry and books on the Holocaust).

By the end of the morning, I am usually quite depressed and can't read more of that material.

I realize one cannot learn things that "rejoice the heart" but I can't watch cat videos on facebook either. I tried some of the Tisha b'Av movies put out by various institutions but didn't really appreciate them. And I haven't found relevant learning programs close to where I live.

What has this community found as a meaningful set of activities, complying with the spirit and letter of halacha, that one can do alone or in small groups?

  • This related question asks what one is supposed to do - I am asking what people have tried and worked for them and here is a community wiki on what one can learn on Tisha b'Av – mbloch Jul 5 '18 at 18:20
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    Did you try reading Josephus' The Jewish War? That's what I read and even after the whole day I still don't manage to finish the book. – Ploni Jul 5 '18 at 18:43
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    "By the end of the morning, I am usually quite depressed and can't read more of that material." I hope I don't sound too cynical (an unfortunate side effect of typing is the lack of tone), but isn't that sort of the point? Tisha B'Av is a sad day, it's supposed to be in a sense 'depressing'. Of course, it needs to be executed in a 'normal' manner, but the point of the day is to feel sadness over the loss of the Temple and other tragedies throughout Jewish history. – Salmononius2 Jul 5 '18 at 18:54
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    This Tisha b’Av, the fast is pushed off because it falls on Shabbat. So while you’re making kiddush on wine and eating a nice warm fleishig meal for dinner and lunch, you can meaningfully reflect on how G-d has blessed us this year on both the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av to see how these days are really intended to be spent. And that by us removing the causes, we can see the fast pushed off permanently before Shabbat goes out. @mbloch ברכה והצלחה. – Yaacov Deane Jul 5 '18 at 18:59
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    When you say "can't read more of that material" are you including the material about the kinnot themselves? (There are long, livestreamed explanatory kinnot broadcasts produced by YU and the OU, as well as a tremendous amount of Tisha-B'Av-permissible-content at the front page of the YUTorah website.) – Rish Jul 5 '18 at 21:41
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In your "related question" mentioned in your comment I answered learning Hilchot Lashon Hara. Someone debated whether you may learn that, and you can verify this with your rav. My thinking is that since sin'at Chinam was the main cause of Churban Bayit Sheini, and Lashon Hara is a manifestation of Sin'at Chinam, it seem Tisha B'av related. Chafetz Chayim's book is quite long, so it has occupied a few hours of my day. What I like about it is that it offers new inisghts each time I read it, and I leave the day with a few items that I can implement throughout the year.

One film I saw that I found extremely touching was a film about Rav Chaim Michael Dov Weismandel's tremendous feats during the Holocaust. I don't recall what the film is called. The film explains the tremendous hardships faced by the Hungarian Jews and how one man alone managed to save a few thousand Jews from imminent death. Unfortunately, he did not get sufficient cooperation from those in Switzerland and the Jewish Agency in Palestine. Granted, that, I have a somewhat personal connection with Rav Weismandel, as my grandfather and he corresponded frequently, and my cousin has copies of some of the letters. I'll see if I can find the name of the film / documentary. It's about an hour long.

  • Many thanks for this. There is also a book on R Weismandel: The Unheeded Cry but I haven't read it yet – mbloch Jul 6 '18 at 3:44
  • @mbloch yes, a good read. Also the Rabbi's personal memoir of the events of the ware called מן המצר (written in Hebrew). Somone also recently (2014?) wrote a commentary on the work in a new large and expanded volume. He as well wrote a kinnah on the churban, don't know how many people now about it - it's not in my artscroll. – Dr. Shmuel Jul 6 '18 at 4:08
  • @DanF I'm really curios what the doc. is called. I also have a connection like you have to the Rabbi. Out of curiosity, was there any footage of the Rabbi in that doc.? – Dr. Shmuel Jul 6 '18 at 4:09
  • @Shmuel I vaguely recall that the film was a compilation of 2 or 3 people involved in saving Jews during the Holocaust - unless I'm confusing it with another similar film. I saw it about 5 years ago, but, perhaps I can locate it. – DanF Jul 6 '18 at 13:26
  • @Shmuel Offhand, the Piku'ach Nefesh movie available through rlgfoundation.org/yizkereim-holocaust-documentaries might have been the one that I saw. – DanF Jul 6 '18 at 13:33

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