Tisha b'Av (the ninth of Av) is the day we mourn the destruction of the first and second Temples. It is also a time when we remember the suffering and tragedies that have affected the Jewish nation in the last two thousand years of exile.

The Talmud relates that the great Rabbi Akiva and some of his colleagues visited the Temple Mount shortly after the Temple was destroyed. When they arrived, an animal was coming out of the spot that was previously the most holy area. Seeing this painful sight the rabbis began to cry. Except Rabbi Akiva. He began to laugh.

A little confused, the others questioned the cause of Rabbi Akiva's happiness. In response he gave the following explanation: "In the writings of the prophets we read of two prophecies—one of destruction, and the other of hope and ultimate redemption. As I stand here and witness the fulfillment of the first prediction I am confident that second will also take place." (For the full story, see The Laughter of Rabbi Akiva.)

There are two critical components to the healing processAmong the many explanations of this episode, there is one that gives us a perspective on how to approach painful and challenging experiences.

People unfortunately face challenges on many levels—minor setbacks, relationship breakdowns, sickness, loss of loved ones or significant suffering. Whatever the experience is, this Talmudic story teaches that there are two critical components to the healing process. On the one hand we can and should cry, grieve, and mourn. Indifference to challenge or suffering reflects insensitivity. Suppressing our emotions is very unhealthy. We should be sensitive to our own and other's pain and beg G‑d to bring salvation. On the other hand, Rabbi Akiva taught that we possess the ability to move on, let go and look forward with hope, strength and optimism. After we grieve or cry we leave the world of sorrow and move into the world of action, doing whatever possible to create a better tomorrow. Rabbi Akiva's laughter was not a naive view of the destruction around him—he too felt the pain. Rather it was a declaration of hope, resilience, faith and feeling of certainty that there will be a better future.

Every Tisha b'Av we mourn for the long exile and our history of oppression and persecution. But the very next day, the period of mourning comes to an end and we focus on the future with hope and belief that soon Tisha b'Av will be transformed into a day of happiness; with the final redemption—may it take place soon.