Four Worlds Ritual for Tisha B’Av: Remembering, Mourning, and Renewal

This Four Worlds Ritual for commemorating the holy day calls for
  • a vial of water
  • a vial of earth
  • a feather
  • a candle
  • two small bowls, one in which the water will be poured and one in which the earth will be poured.
Refrain of Hashiveinu is sung at the beginning of this ritual as people gather and sit in a circle or on cushions on the floor in a darkened room, with many candles placed around.
Leader says:
It is a time of remembering and mourning difficult times of destruction and loss in Jewish history and for us in our personal lives.
We create a sacred space together and remember those sad events and times and honor them as we move to a time of renewal, light and rebirth.
We sit on the floor in darkness and candlelight. We are barefoot on a cushion, perhaps we dress in white to create a holy space. The refrain of Hashiveinu plays or is sung as we center ourselves by candlelight. This refrain is threaded throughout the ritual in between each of the four parts of the ritual.
We sprinkle some earth into the bowl and say:
May we honor the earth that has received the remnants of that which has been destroyed. May their fragments be returned to the earth to be absorbed and to be be part of restoration and rebuilding of our earth.
Leader asks and group can share and discuss:
What fragments of your life that no longer serve do you wish to return to the earth?
Refrain of Hashiveinu
We take the vile of water and sprinkle it into another small bowl and we say:
May the waters of life restore the flow of energy and bring a renewal of life and light to our world and to us.
Leader asks and group can share and discuss:
What waters of life do you need right now to replenish you?
What areas of your life currently need replenishing and what do you need in order to accomplish that revitalization?
What areas of our communal or national life need to be revitalized at this point in time? How do you see that happening?
Refrain of Hashiveinu
We hold the feather and say: May we be open to receiving the breath of holiness (Ruakh HaKodesh), the Breath of Life and Renewal, the creation of new life.
Leader asks and group can share and discuss:
Which parts of your life need an infusion of holiness in order to guide you forward in a more positive or productive direction?
What infusion of holiness does our world need now?
Refrain of Hashiveinu
We take a lit candle and say:
May this flame reflect our spiritual connection to the Eternal One and may that connection grow ever stronger. May it sustain us and replenish us.
Leader asks and group can share and discuss discuss:
In what ways are you connected to the Eternal One and how do you hope that connection will grow?
What are your plans for growing the connection?
Refrain of Hashiveinu
Final blessing: May the Shekhinah of the Four Worlds of earth, air, water and fire bless you and guide your path to be one of wisdom and compassion. May the Shekhinah bring blessings of peace, completeness, light and creativity to you. May the Shekhinah sustain you and bring you energy and guide you to be a creator and builder and of new life and repairer of all life.
Extinguish the candle. End of ritual.
Share on facebook
Share on email

Ritualwell content is available for free thanks to the generous support of readers like you! Please help us continue to offer meaningful content with a donation today. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Rituals

Shop Ritualwell - Discover unique Judaica products

The Reconstructionist Network

Serving as central organization of the Reconstructionist movement

Training the next generation of groundbreaking rabbis

Modeling respectful conversations on pressing Jewish issues

Curating original, Jewish rituals, and convening Jewish creatives

Get the latest from Ritualwell

Subscribe for the latest rituals, online learning opportunities, and unique Judaica finds from our store.

The Reconstructionist Network