The bleakest fast of the year is Tisha b’Av, commemorating the destruction of both Temples (in 586 B.C.E. and 70 C.E.). We begin preparing ourselves to feel the enormity of the loss from the 17th of Tammuz, the day the Roman armies breached the wall around Jerusalem; the expressions of mourning intensify with the start of Av; and then on Tisha b’Av, we fast, sitting low to the ground as we read the Scroll of Lamentations and recite dirges.
How will I die? What if (anything) happens to me (if there even still is a “me”) next? How will my death impact those I leave behind? The Talmud asks these questions in response to the death of Miriam and Aaron, part of this week’s sedra.