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Nachamu:What is Grief? What is Comfort?

08/09/2022 06:08:48 PM


Rabbi Rudin

                Shabbos Nachamu: From Mourning to Morning for All -

When we grieve, we traditionally tear our garments.  Why?

Jacob, Job, King David, the Judeans at the walls facing the destruction of Jerusalem- the Bible shows that this tearing is the primal first response to the loss of a loved one.  But why?

Perhaps just as death tears away a loved one from us, so do externalize that rupture by tearing our clothing, that part of ourselves that we put over our nakedness.  When we tear our clothing, we are exposed, raw, unveiled. 

Perhaps the essence of grief is that someone or something we loved is gone without a connection or a link- no way remains to access the love and sharing that we once had.  That version of ourselves that existed in relation to them is also gone. 

How can there be comfort for such a loss?  

But there is.  When someone is taken from us, we seek to continue their legacy by Tzedaka, Mitzvot, giving back in their name, thus perpetuating their impact on the world, the meaning of their lives.  In the same way, those of their family or their work that they leave behind becomes more precious to us, for thereby our connection goes on. 

So to be comforted means to be connected to the life of those we remember in a different way. Nothing and no one is lost when we can still find them through acts of love.  

This season of Tisha B'Av, when we mourned the loss of Jerusalem, gives way to the Sabbath of Comfort, when all that Jerusalem means to us is continued in rebuilding: in supporting our precious families, in nurturing Judaism, in supporting the rebuilt Jewish homeland of Israel and in preparing for Rosh HaShana, only a bit more than a month away.  Let us dare to believe that the year that comes will be a better year, a more blessed, more loving, more productive and more happy year than the one that has passed.  

Let us resolve right now to laugh more, to love more, to smile more, to give and hope and grow more.  Let us say to ourselves: every tiny bit of positivity I can add to my life is one more step to a rebuilt Jerusalem and a healed world.  Let us make it happen, one Mitzvah at a time.  But just as Judaism is both spiritual and material, let us match each moment of love and growth in our personal lives with one act of Jewish connection in our communal lives. 

Then will we find comfort- then will we see the Vision grow and then will we be able to spread our spiritual wings of light and rise with the new year that comes with blessings-  Shabbat Shalom!

Thu, February 22 2024 13 Adar I 5784