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Tisha B’Av Musings

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My 40th birthday was looming, and the doctors were taking no chances. Every pre-natal visit was a repeat performance of the earlier ones. I was practically read the riot act, made to feel like the most irresponsible mother in history.

When I went into labor a month after my birthday, the timing could not have been worse. It was Erev Tisha B’Av. I was 40 years old and about to deliver my 10th child. All the lectures and warnings I had been subjected to throughout my pregnancy kept replaying in my brain like a broken record. Of course, I had bitachon in HaKadosh Baruch Hu and hoped for the best. But, seriously, Tisha B’Av? Not exactly the date I would have chosen for my blessed event.

I tried waiting out the contractions, hoping against hope that it was a false alarm and that I would be granted a temporary reprieve of a day or two – enough time to get past those ominous dates. Alas, it was not to be.

My husband drove me to Grace/Sinai Hospital in Detroit, where I was registered to deliver. Unlike my previous nine arrivals in the maternity and delivery wing, when I grinned from ear to ear in anticipation of another miracle, this time I sobbed uncontrollably.

A mountainous nurse spotted me and came over to calm me. She wrapped her huge arm around my shoulders and inquired, “Your first?” “N…n…n…o,” I stammered between sobs, “my 10th.” I tried to explain my fears of the inauspicious date, but the concept was too foreign to mean anything to this very kind, but obviously clueless, woman.

I was admitted and assigned a room. As day began to fade, my husband sat on the floor of my hospital room eating hard-boiled eggs and ashes, an incongruous sight if ever there was one.

My labor progressed with textbook precision, and sometime around shekiah/bein hashemashos I, Baruch Hashem, delivered a healthy seven-plus-pound baby girl. The experience was surreal, to say the least.

To help diffuse the palpable tension, my husband shared with me the short list of possible names he had compiled. The choices were: Nevuchadnetzara, Titusa and Nechama Tziona. For once, my better half and I were in perfect agreement.

I have heard that Mashiach will be born on Tisha B’Av. My new baby girl did not quite fit that bill, but she was yeshuah enough for us on that exceedingly frightening day. We were overwhelmed with relief and gratitude.

When things calmed down and I was comfortably settled in my room, my husband returned home to our anxious kids, who were thrilled to have a healthy new sister. Their celebration was muted, however, and they had to wait until after Tisha B’Av to share the news with their extended family and friends.

Our personal Tisha B’Av that year had, b’chasdei Hashem, been transformed “miyagon l’simcha, u’meiafeilah l’ora.”

We await the day, bimheira b’yameinu, that all of acheinu beis Yisrael will, b’ezras Hashem, be zoche to celebrate together, when the solemn and tragic day of Tisha B’Av will become an incredibly joyous Yom Tov.

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