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The Three Weeks Begin...

07/18/2022 02:11:49 PM


Rabbi Rudin


The Jewish calendar is the photo album of our history, beliefs, doctrines and rituals.  Go through the Jewish year and you've pretty much got a picture of what we're all about.

Take the next three weeks for example.  These are where we store our most painful images.  Images that if we didn't consign them a particular period of the year would haunt us continually.  

The saga of Jewish suffering is familiar I think: from the Destruction of the Temple and exile to the slaughter and persecution of the Crusades and the nightmare of the ghettoes.  And then the destruction of Sephardic Jewry in 1492 and the grotesque torments of the Inquisition.  And then the Chmeilnicki Massacres of the 1600's gave the world a new word: Pogrom.  And then... the worst of the worst, the Shoah. 

The fact that most of these catastrophes began in this season- the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the First Crusade, declared in 1096 by Pope Urban, the Alhambra Proclamation destroying a thousand years of Jewish life in Spain, the outbreak of World War I in 1914 which led directly to what came after... well, let's just say that by locking our nightmares in one day- the 9th of Av- and the weeks preceding, we are able to carry on.

But only a month later, we gear up for the renewal of Rosh Hashana and the purification of Yom Kippur.  


The secret, I have discovered, is not that we remember the bad times in order to re-traumatize ourselves. We remember to be uplifted by the fiery faith and indomitable will and love of the generations upon whose shoulders we stand.  Our very existence is due only to the determination of those who came before us.  Tisha B'Av and the Three Weeks are not only a remembrance and tribute but a faith statement of our own:  We are connected to our parents, grandparents, great greatparents back to Sinai.  And we are determined to live joyfully, affirmatively and to make their sacrifice and ordeals meaningful by dedicating our lives to creating the world of their visions and hopes.  To aspire to anything less is unthinkable.  

The Three Weeks ask us to refrain from celebrations and weddings and even from instrumental music.  The Nine Days before Tisha B'Av (the first weekend of August) ask us to refrain from purchasing and wearing new clothing and for some, from eating meat and drinking wine (aside from Shabbat).  And Tisha B'Av itself is a day that we refrain from eating, drinking, wearing leather, annointing with aftershare or makeup, washing for pleasure and intimacy.   All to refine us, to drive us high, high above the physical, to appreciate the heritage and the mission and to encourage us to take ownership of it.  

To me, this is empowerment and elevation.  It makes me feel closer to G-d and to every Jew, my precious brothers and sisters.  Together, we remember.  Together we grieve digging deep wells of sorrow in the ground of our soul- and together, we prepare for renewal when the rain of blessing will fill those wells with indescribable hope and blessing--

Shabbat shalom!


Thu, February 22 2024 13 Adar I 5784