Suffering humanizes us. Ignoring suffering dehumanizes us… Attunement to suffering makes us more compassionate. It also helps us appreciate where we come from and all that it took to get us to where we are.
We have to remind ourselves that we don’t diminish our happiness when we spend a day or a few weeks meditating on the tragedies of history from which we emerged. We become more grateful, holding tightly to our blessed life because we can.
IN THE NARROW PLACES
Daily Inspiration For The Three Weeks
by Erica Brown
~ Review by Cindy
Bein HaMitzarim* – the Three Weeks – is a lesser known appointed time. It is a time of mourning starting on the 17th of Tammuz and cumulating on Tisha b’Av, The Ninth Day Of Av.** [23 July – 14 August this year.] This is a somber time commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temple, the exile of the people from the Land, the persecutions and pogroms, and the Crusades and Inquisitions executed against the Jewish people. If you want to mark this period with focus and purpose, In The Narrow Places is a great tool.
In The Narrow Places includes a short discourse for each of the 21 days – each ending with a Kavana, which is:
…a specific spiritual focus for the day that involves reflection, imagination or action to integrate the learning.
Exploring chiefly the words of Isaiah and Jeremiah (text central to this season), Erica Brown also draws from other Biblical text and Rabbinic literature. She reminds us that:
Our summer reading is temporarily replaced by more strenuous language that offers us the linguistic tools to speak about tragedy, to plumb its depths and encircle our hearts at the same time.
Each year, we encounter these texts anew. We read them into recent news broadcasts and personal distress; we marvel at the way that these ancient voices pierce our modern reality and offer a way of understanding a world that can seem confusing and disorienting … there is a language of pain, a way to articulate suffering.
The period of the Three Weeks is captured in the prose-poetry of Jeremiah, in the wailing women of Lamentations, in the protests of Job.
Erica Brown understands well the challenge of the Three Weeks falling smack dab in the middle of our lazy-hazy days of summer,
The Three Weeks fall in the middle of summer, dampening the weather and the usual summer breeziness of outdoor activities and much-needed vacations. In the minds of many, the period of the Three Weeks becomes a spoiler. It makes demands at a time of year which is usually demand-free – if not in reality, then at least in perception: school is out, and workloads lighten…
A friend once remarked, “I would trade Three Weeks in the summer for five weeks in the winter,” underscoring how difficult the summer season is for the expression of pain.
With it’s message of rebuilding and affirmation of hope, In The Narrow Places is a great, inspirational companion to help you pause and reflect on each of these 21 days.
And they shall build the old wastes,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall renew the waste cities,
The desolations of many generations.
You can purchase In The Narrow Places here from Amazon.com
In the Narrow Places
* Bein HaMitzarim means “between narrow straits. This name is derived from Lamentations 1:3. The fast of 17th day of Tammuz is mentioned in Zechariah 8:19-23 in which Adonai tells us that this fast will become a time of joy.
** You can find a Hebrew calendar online at https://www.hebcal.com