3 Tishrei 5781 / Monday, September 21, 2020 | Torah Reading: Rosh Hashana
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The Egg and Tisha B’Av    

The Egg and Tisha B’Av

What’s behind the centuries-old Ashkenazic custom for the Seudat Mafseket, the concluding meal before Tisha B’Av, of eating hardboild eggs dipped in ashes?


The old Ashkenazic custom for the Seudat Mafseket, the concluding meal before Tisha B’Av, is to eat a cold hardboiled egg dipped in ashes is deeply rooted in Jewish religious law (see Rama, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 552:5, and Mishna Brura comments 13-15) and esoteric tradition as well. Hardboiled eggs are the food of mourners, and the ash symbolizes the destruction of our Holy Temple. Together, the egg and the ash are an expression of our mourning for the Holy Temple.
There's so much intrinsic wisdom within an egg, just like there is in all of Hashem's creatures and creations; all we have to do is to open our eyes and observe.
Eggs are closely tied to the "Three Weeks", the period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, or Tisha B'Av. This period is an annual time of mourning for the Jewish people because of all the calamities that occurred throughout our history, most notably and tragic - the destruction of our First and Second Holy Temples in Jerusalem. Once again, hard-boiled eggs are the food that is fed to mourners, since the round egg represents the life cycle which is also round.
Most remarkable is that the period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av consists of 21 days. The incubation span of an egg is - by no coincidence - 21 days. 21 is also the gematria of Hashem's Holy Name Ehye'h, א-ה-י-ה , which according to tradition is the Name that signifies personal Divine providence. This means that even our troubles are the product of Hashem's Divine providence, especially tailored to the minutest detail for our ultimate best.
At the completion of the 21 day cycle, the egg hatches and a baby chick - a new life - emerges. We too pray that at the termination of this difficult 21-day period, the new and eternal Holy Temple will emerge as well, shining Hashem's holy light to the far corners of the earth, amen.

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