Yom Kippur & Tisha B'Av may share the distinction of being the only night-and-day fasts of the year, but they are as different as.. well, Day & Night. In fact, Yom Kippur is known as the White Fast, while Tisha B'Av is called the Black Fast. Though we refrain from food, drink, bathing, marital relations, etc. on both days, there is a distinct difference in the atmosphere & mood of the 2 events. On Yom Kippur, we're exhilarated by our surge of spirituality, as we lunge excitedly for the heights of Teshuva. After eating a festive meal before the fast, we spurn material needs & desires for 25 hours, looking angelic in our white Kittels, davening until the stars finally appear. We greet our fellow Jews exuberantly, with confident wishes of good tidings, signed and sealed. But Tisha B'Av is as decidedly DOWNbeat as Yom Kippur is UPbeat. The Seuda HaMafseket (meal before the Fast) is meager & subdued. We chant dirges in the gloom, sitting low or on the floor, avoiding greetings or social nicities. The Parochet is off the Ark; the Tefilin is off our arm. If Yom Kippur excites

and uplifts us with the promise of our G-dly potential, Tisha B'Av depresses us with the realization of just how low we can fall. Yom Kippur heralds a sweet New Year; Tisha B'Av leaves the sour taste of a bitter past in our mouths.

Our major sin on Tisha B'Av was our lack of faith: In our leaders, in G-d, but most of all, in ourselves. We cried at the prospect of entering Israel; we failed to act as a holy, chosen People with a unique way of life all our own. We engaged in Sinat Chinam - literally, the hatred of other's "chayn," or special contribution to the Universe - because, deep down, we doubted our OWN niche in G-d's world. The failure to recognize our own greatness led us to doubt everyone else's, pulling us into a world of self-doubt & slander, imploding our Jewish world from within. The operative sound of Yom Kippur is the majestic Shofar; but the operative sound of Tisha B'Av is the sob, & the sigh.
Yet, in Hashem's great mercy, we are left with a ray of hope amidst this grim climate. Tisha B'Av is still characterized as a "Moed," a festival (thus we do not say Tachanun on this day). The clear implication is that one day, when we have reaffirmed our belief in ourselves & have re-established our love & appreciation for every other Jew, we will turn this day into a celebration of life.

At that moment, black & white will merge, & out will come the color of....the Geula! May the day come bimhera byameinu. AMEN

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