We are close to entering Bein Hameitzarim – The Narrow Straits – or Three Weeks Of Sorrow. As we enter this time it is good to remember that this time of grief can also be seen as a time of healing. Rachel Barenblat explains:
[The Three Weeks] This is the corridor between two painful anniversaries: the date when Jerusalem’s ancient city walls were first breached, and the date when the Temple was destroyed. What does it say about us as a people that we remember these dates each year? Is it spiritually healthy to hold on to ancient wounds?…
The breach in ancient Jerusalem’s city wall is a paradigmatic cracking-open from integrity and wholeness to brokenness. And as those of us who offer pastoral care know well, every grief that we feel triggers every other grief. Every brokenness evokes other brokenness: whether the breaking of a marriage, or the breaking of a life’s trajectory, or the breaking of a heart suffused with sorrow.
The Jewish calendar gives us these Three Weeks as a time for feeling the brokenness that characterizes every heart and every life. These weeks offer an invitation, and an opportunity to feel what hurts. Not because we’re going to stay in that brokenness, but precisely because we’re not — and because recognizing what’s broken is the first step toward healing, as individuals and as a community.*
Blessed are you Lord our G-d, King of the Universe. Abba may we allow this time of sorrow to teach and reshape our hearts. May we come out of The Narrow Straits more grateful for the blessings we have and filled with even greater hope and expectation for return of Messiah Yeshua – for a time when wars will cease when the land and people will be healed and Your knowledge and glory will fill the earth!
ADONAI, turn us back to you; and we will come back; renew our days, as they were in the past. (Lamentations 5:21)
THE SEEDS PLANTED ON TISHA B’AV**
– Ovadya ben Malka
A long sorrow follows us into the future.
A sadness long foretold
Baked into loaves
Laid out under the lamps
Of unforgiving time
Meeting our questions with silence.
A great joy lives in our future
A seed planted in the soil of memory,
Watered by our tears
Pushing roots into the past and green shoots into the future
And calling to us: Live!
Only live to see me blossom!
A blessing and a curse were laid on us that day.
We have drunk our fill of the curse,
Lived it through every dark and empty moment of chaos,
Sought unattainable death amidst a sea of corpses.
However large or small a bowl one brings,
This curse fills it.
A curse and a blessing were laid on us that day.
Having lived the curse,
Can we doubt the blessing?
We’ve felt the change, stirring beneath the spiral coil of time,
See the green shoots of hope blossoming in our Land renewed.
However large or small a seed we plant,
This blessing fills it.
Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am The Lord.
* Rachel Barenblat, Why The Three Weeks Of Grief In The Jewish Calendar Can Be Healing
** Ovadya ben Malka, From Memory And Redemption – Reflections From A Damaged Mirror