July 27, 2022
The Jewish calendar is incredibly fascinating, as it includes built in times for “prescribed emotions.” On Sukkot and Simchat Torah, we are commanded to “be happy and rejoice.” On the other side of the emotional coin, there are specific times for mourning, and the remembrance of loss. We are in one of those times right now.
In Hebrew this time is called Bein ha-Metzarim, which translates as “Between the Straits.” In English we refer to this time as The Three Weeks, which is a 21 day period of mourning that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples. On the Hebrew calendar, this period starts on the 17th day of Tammuz and concludes on the 9th day of Av, also known as Tisha B’Av. On the Gregorian calendar, this three week period started on July 16th and will conclude on August 6th.
The Three Weeks allows us time to contemplate what it means to lose something. Then, this period of time culminates with the opportunity for collective mourning and communal support with the observance of Tisha B’Av. Together we remember and feel the deep losses of our people. The key word here is together.
During Tisha B’av, we read from the book of Lamentations (Eicha in Hebrew). It is a solemn gathering as we grieve and pray together. It is important to remember that while the Temples were destroyed, and other calamitous events have befallen us, Judaism survived!! Together our people have kept the Jewish heart pusing. Hope is deeply rooted in our collective psyche and keeps the Jewish soul alive. While we have endured many losses and tragic experiences since the fall of the temples, we continue to thrive as a people.
Psycho-spiritually, it is important to mourn loss. At the same time, it is also important not to become stuck in grief and pain. In Jewish tradition, we are commanded not to despair. So first we feel the feelings, fully. In doing so, grief transforms and we move forward, toward growth and life.
By taking this time, this gift afforded us by the Jewish calendar, we confront what has happened, and what continues to happen, to our people. From this place of collective remembrance and support, we rise in strength.
This year, we will observe Tisha B’Av on Saturday evening, August 6th. In community, we will read from the Book of Lamentations. We will chant melodies that stir our Jewish souls. We will contemplate both ancient and contemporary losses, and tend to the fissures of our hearts. Let’s gather together on Tisha B’Av and support each other in this very ancient way. See the schedule in the e-blast for all the details.