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Reb Lisa's Message

July 19, 2023

Chodesh Tov. We are beginning the Hebrew month of Av. This month is also called Menachem Av which sheds light on what this month is about. Perhaps more accurately, Menachem Av reminds us what we need during this time–comfort and support from the Divine Parental presence. Av means father and menachem means one who comforts or consoles. Why do we need comfort and consolation at this time?

When the month of Av begins, we enter a period of time known as the “Nine Days” a deeply mournful period of time that precedes Tisha B’Av. Known as the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’Av is a day for collective mourning and remembrance of many calamities that have befallen the Jewish people. Such losses include the destruction of the two temples.

Part of how to receive comfort is to commemorate and feel these losses together. Recalling these moments of ancestral trauma inevitably brings forth contemporary losses we face as a community. And we also feel our own personal losses more deeply.

While it may seem counterintuitive to jump into the deep end of pain, there is something brilliant about entering into a planned period of collective mourning. Jewish tradition requires us to grieve every year at this time, in a communal setting. AND we are also required to get on with our lives at the end of the nine days. We don’t shy away from pain and loss. In giving ourselves this time, we emerge feeling lighter, less burdened.

During the “Nine Days” we engage in practices that create a quiet, reflective time. For example we refrain from eating foods traditionally associated with joy (wine, meat). The end of the nine day period culminates in Tisha B’av (the ninth day of Av). This is a day spent mourning. It is customary to fast and to spend time in community praying and reading the Book of Lamentations.

There will be a Tisha B’Av service next Wednesday night, July 26th at 7:00 pm. Together we will read the Book of Lamentations, chant niggunim, and have time for reflection and sharing.

Something we all have in common is loss. This is a given and is something that connects us as human beings. Whatever your observance level, the “Nine Days” and Tisha B’Av offer the opportunity to mourn and to heal.

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