So how was my Tisha Bav? you ask. Well, not great. Aside from the natural gloominess of the day coupled with fasting, I was suffering from something else too: My own mind games.
I guess I felt some pressure to feel bad and cry about the state of our exiled people, how we miss our Temple and our communal and individual suffering, which I do admit stems from the shechina’s absence in our life. But I didn’t cry. I had a hard time connecting to the pain of any of those things. I hosted a meaningful get-together in my home where we read Eicha and hauntingly hushed songs about Jerusalem. I got up the next morning and went to hear my dear friend Rabbi Shlomo Katz of Efrat elucidate the Kinnos very beautifully. I mean, it seemed that I had all the right ingredients to awaken my sleepy soul, but in-a-sense that just mounted the pressure. “What’s wrong with me?” I was thinking. Can’t I cry, for God’s sake? Am I serious about my Judaism or not?
I started talking to Hashem and I remembered Rebbe Nachman’s timeless advice to be a תם, a simpleton. In Tinyana 44, the Rebbe says that we should “stay far away from the sophisticated ideas that we entertain, even in our avodas Hashem. Like those times when we over-think and over-analyze if we fulfilled our obligations correctly. That type of sophistication is just disconcerting, illusionary nonsense that trips us up in our avoda [and brings us farther from our goal]. Those scrutinizing thoughts lead us to sadness”.
It’s so important to step back and recognize when our thoughts are wreaking havoc on our equilibrium. They’re just silly thoughts; here now and gone later. Serving Hashem with תמימות, simplicity, empowers us to let go of those heavy, pressure-packed, hogwash thoughts and just follow our healthy state of mind in pursuit of our ambitions.