Hot, sticky summer night, and suddenly – sparks hopping around in the grass and bushes – fireflies! Until now, fireflies appeared only in my kids’ children’s books. Now they are here, dancing. Them and the beautiful, red cardinal, to remind me that stories are real.
Tish’a Be’av – the days after:
The worst thing Tish’a Be’av got going, aside from being the longest, hottest fast of the year, is falling in the dead of summer, when there is no school. At some point, there was an idea to combine Holocaust Day into Tish’a Be’av. After all, argued those in favor, we already have a national mourning day. Let’s tag all our national troubles to that one. The founders of our State said no, and therefore, lucky for us, whether we like it or not, at least about the Holocaust, we know a thing or two. Which can’t be said – for a large segment of the our people – when it comes to Tish’a Be’av. Wait, Tish’a be’av? Isn’t that the day we plant trees? Oh, that’s Tu Bishvat? My oh my, they do sound similar…
So now, we have discussions about how to find meaning on this day. Because, really, we’re clueless. What does it mean that the Temple was destroyed? Who cares? 2000 years have gone by! As one of my traveling teens said to me, “if a building collapses, or whatever happens to it, and you want it fixed, then fix it! Why the whining?”
To say that, is like living in a world devoid of any sunlight, and for someone would say, ‘what are you complaining about? Here, plug in this little night light, you’ll be fine’. This is one of the biggest tragedies of this day in our time, that we don’t know what we’re missing.
Rav Avi Weiss holds an afternoon prayer-vigil opposite the U.N. building in NYC. For 40 years, every year, on Tsh’a Be’av, he’s there, in the middle of this intense fast, standing up for the Jewish people, telling the world, Am Yisrael Chai – we’re here. Every country’s flag waves in front of us as he speaks passionately, encouraging us to continue and dream big, not to give up – who would have thought we’d be where we are? This too is Tish’a Be’av – destruction is the lowest we can go, but it only means, from there, we can go only up, always up.
I’m an particularly touched this year by the juxtaposition of the two shabbatot before and after Tish’a Be’av: the one before is called Chazon – vision, and the one after, this Shabbat coming up this week, Nachamu – comfort. And I’m puzzled: shouldn’t it be backwards? First comfort, in preparation of the calamities ahead, and then, once we survive, IF we survive, we’ll work on our vision… but the sages tell us – opposite: going into disaster, you don’t need comfort. It’s going to happen, whatever it is. But you need a vision to see beyond; to know there is a beyond. Then, we’ll sit and comfort.
And, in this Torah reading Moses also introduces – love: “You shall love you G-d”… (Deuteronomy 6:4). What is this? Can love actually be commanded??who can be forced to truly love? Not possible. Is it a request, as some suggest?? Also, strange. I think, it’s simply a fact. This is how it’s going to be. just like with people, your relationship with G-d will not always be predictable, not always neat and organized. It will have crazy moments, unexplainable events, passionate break ups and emotional come-backs, but always, together, guided by the most simple, complicated, healing and powerful force in the universe –love.