When he was asked which was the right way, that of sorrow or that of joy, the rabbi of Berditchev said:
There are two kinds of sorrow and two kinds of joy. When a man broods over the misfortunes that have come upon him, when he cowers in a corner and despairs of help – that is a bad kind of sorrow…The other kind is honest grief of a man who knows what he lacks.
The same is true of joy. He who is devoid of inner substance, and, in the midst of his empty pleasures, does not feel it, nor tries to fill his lack, is a fool. But he who is truly joyful is like a man whose house has burned down, who feels his need deep in his soul and begins to build anew. Over every stone that is laid, his heart rejoices.*
The Three Weeks is a time of semi-mourning. The weeks between the 17th of Tammuz, the date on which the walls of Jerusalem were breached, and the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av), the date on which the destructions of both the first and second temple are commemorated, are called The Three Weeks or Bein ha’Mitzarim – Within the Straits. The phrase comes from the Book of Lamentations**:
“All her pursuers overtook her bein hamitzarim.”
While the modern emphasis is on moving forward, there is much lost when we are ignorant of history and what has gone before and we don’t, as Erica Brown describes, “look backward with awe, respect, sadness and gratitude.”
To help focus and learn the lessons offered us during this time we are sharing a short excerpt a day from Erica Brown’s book, IN THE NARROW PLACES – Daily Inspiration For the Three Weeks.
You can read our review of the book here.
We highly recommend purchasing a personal copy, which is available here, via amazon.com
In the Narrow Places
Photo credit: Michoel from oneinfocus.org
* Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim
** Lamentations 1:3