Tisha b’Av 5777 – 1

I’m reading my way through an introduction to Megilas Eicha, and I’m reading about why the First Bais HaMikdash was destroyed, the sins that brought down the nation.

I just don’t understand… They had everything we dream of today, G-d with them in the Holy Temple. Why did they throw it away?

I want to understand them, to excuse them, to find a reason why this could possibly make sense… And what hope we have of doing better I’m going to keep reading. And crying

Tisha b’Av reblog

I went searching through the archives for posts from Tisha b’Av in past years, trying to bring back the feelings that were so more intense in past years. (I strongly recommend that, since I don’t know how many new posts will go up today.) This one stood out as it really explains the contrast between the normal, optimistic, Moshiach-awaiting feeling we usually try so hard to bring on the site, and the pain that today is meant to evoke.

In one sentence, I’d sum it up as the flip side of believing we can bring Moshiach every day: If we could have, why is Moshiach not here?

Now, if you help bring it…

Every year for the past few years, I’ve written a post that I firmly believe Moshiach can, and will, come this year, and that we’ve just seen the last Tisha B’Av. The first ones were in my journal, and more recent ones are shared here.

And in spite of being wrong, every year, I still believe. I believe that the upcoming Tisha B’Av might be the promised day of celebration, and even if that doesn’t happen, I will believe the same of next year. But I’m coming to realize that it isn’t so simple.

We aren’t waiting for G-d to ‘spontaneously’ decide that now is the time for Moshiach. WE HAVE THE POWER TO BRING MOSHIACH EVERY DAY! WE HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO TRY TO BRING MOSHIACH EVERY DAY!

(Sorry for yelling but that was really therapeutic.) Let me explain. G-d can bring the Moshiach at any time. But He is waiting for us to be ready, waiting for us to receive the Moshiach with open arms as one united people. Learning this made me realize that it’s not that I believe that G-d can bring the Moshiach, because of course He can. It’s ‘do I believe that my fellow Jews have the ability to bring the Moshiach?’ And the answer is yes.

So, why isn’t the Moshiach here yet? Good question. As much as I believe we are each responsible for bringing Moshiach, the only person I have control over is myself. So the question is – ‘If I believe that everyone has the potential to bring Moshiach, and I trust that everyone is doing their own personal best, then what more can I do to bring Moshiach?’

That’s what the Three weeks, and the Nine days, are meant to make us think about. We’re meant to truly appreciate the depth of what we have lost, of what we are missing in our lives each day.  It’s not meant to drag us down into hopeless misery, but to motivate us to do better, to try harder, since we have the potential to bring back, not only what we have lost, but a whole new bright future.

So, do your best. Try a little bit harder. Embrace the pain and sadness and use it to remind yourself that no one else should ever hurt like that because of you. Examine yourself and see where you have room to improve, and if you think you’re doing your best (as I have faith you all are,) you are welcome to climb aboard here and help others improve.

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU HAS THE POWER TO BRING MOSHIACH TODAY! REMEMBER THAT! YOU ARE AMAZING! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

Bonus TotW: Spotting the disguise

A disguise of the yetzer harah I noticed personally yesterday. Giving you all the heads up!

Finally deciding you’re just going to get it over with and deal with the smelly garbage can should be a good thing, right? After all, I’d been waiting on it for too long. But it just so happened (read: sarcasm) that I finally made up my mind to do it while I was trying to convince myself to daven mincha NOW and not hope I’d have time for it later. It’s amazing what horrible jobs you can suddenly LIKE when there’s a mitzvah on the line, I realized, and as soon as I was done I didn’t give myself another moment to think of more jobs.

That’s a little too convenient motivation, don’t you think? So, for all of you to keep in mind– procrastinating chores is not good, but watch out that the chores aren’t making you procrastinate a mitzvah! After all, Mr. Yetzer Harah, in real life it’s much more fun to daven then to scrub the floor!

The downside of writing…

… for me, other than not getting anything today because I was bitten by a plot bunny, is much more serious. Everything that happens in Israel, especially when I’ve been writing for about three hours today, is like a personal punch in the gut.

The solder killed in the most recent attack, השם ייקום דמו? He could have been my main character. Any of the young, promising Yidden in their army service. The people injured? His family, friends, cousins, shadchan. The children living in fear, because stabbings don’t even come with an air-raid siren and can strike, ה ‘ישמור, out of the blue; are the characters who grew up as I did, and are as much a part of my life as my own friends in Canada. My story is set in Israel, and the blood-streaked stones are the ones I wander in my mind every time I close my eyes. Usually, it’s a blessing, but today, it feels more like a punishment.

Perhaps I’m the only one who prefers being in pain to being numb, as I was with all the other past (I’m not going to call them incidents. They were) murders. The tears that came days after reading about the Jew who stabbed another Jew were almost a relief– they proved the pain had not made me loose touch with reality. This soldier was a world of his own, created personally by the Almighty.

We’re living in a paradox. The way I see it, we’re meant to accept what G-d’s already done, but remember the pain and storm the heavens that it never happen again. Hear that? We small humans have the power to make it NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. But on that, I’ve said enough. Tonight, I just need to cry.

Such a gift

I plan to elaborate on this later, but I can’t go to bed without saying thank you.

I never eat potato chips, but today, in the midst of one of the worst days I’ve had in a while, I suddenly wanted some, and ran down between classes.

G-d made the vending machine give me my chips for nearly free. Believe me, I was a little worried it was theft, and tried to work around it. But the machine insisted! What could I do?

In addition to those special rare souls who showed how much they care today, that warm hug from above helped take the edge off of the pain. I still don’t know what happened, or why, but I know, somehow, that it will be ok.

Not again

Mimi read this post and referred it to me, saying that it’s what she’s been trying to express all along. How even though every moment of conflict hurts so badly, it gives her hope that it will be the last pain before the Redemption. And yet, when the pain lessens… so do we. I was given permission (Todah Rabah,) to use an sample of the post here. I highly recommend visiting the blog for the whole thing: I’m finally sick of Golus, by Rivka Nehorai

I’m really protesting something else – I’m angry that this will bring me higher.

I find with astonishment as I check my internal dialogue that part of me is fed up that this situation will bring me closer to Israel and the Jewish people. I’ll take on a mitzvah, take on an action. My perspective will shift, my priorities will realign, and the shtus of my life will stop avalanching me, because within me I am preoccupied with the growing understanding of the precariousness of the Jewish people and the need for us to focus.

When terror strikes, my life gets simultaneously heavier and better; because my head, heart, and soul are finally, finally aligned. When Israel is under attack, my head is at last found focused in the celestial clouds while my feet are on the ground. I’m able to function in this world while my heart prays for another world.

And I’m tired of it.

Because I’m sick and tired of sliding back. I’m sick of once the terror fades and slides under the radar again that I forget.

I’m tired of forgetting.

I think the author’s solution to the problem is a mission statement we should all adapt. Myself, and Mimi, and you. And everyone.

Shavuah tov

Change is good

When I cry out to G-d in a fit of frustration, it seems that the most often comment is– “Why so soon after the last test?! Can I not be allowed to breath freely or smile without worry for a minute?!” It seems that the tests come one after the other– as soon as one finishes, the next is less than a day away, and sometimes hours or even only 30 minutes past the last one. And I’m not talking about little things. I’m not going to get into an objective ‘is this an issue or not’ because we could spend all day topping each other; but to me at least, these are very big things. Things outside my ability to handle that can often take months to resolve.

The past two days have been the first two days of school. And, looking back, I really have had that break I asked for. Sure, I spent the first day back telling people not to hug me because my guts might fall out onto the floor (yes, I really was feeling that sick at first, and it was beyond hilarious when I said it to an over-enthusiastic teacher); I had a dilemma with my lunchbox and a horrible time with my safa diagnostic test, and I still don’t have my new headphones. But all of these, in the grand scheme of things, are pretty minor. Most importantly, I had the resilience to treat them as such.

But I’ve never laughed so much on the first day of school before. Ever. Or nearly any day, in fact. It turns out I can take better care of myself then I though, and so my health’s basically been stable. (To the utter shock of the resource room director, who’s known me for a while.) I won’t say the past two days have been so easy, but they’ve been amazing fun, amazing growth, and a lot of a lighter load then I’m used to getting from Above.

No doubt, even if I wasn’t ‘due’ for another test right now, writing this will seal the deal. But that’s ok. It won’t erase what a wonderful start of the year it’s been. I hope I’ll cherish these simple sweet memories for a while.

It’s ok to get upset when bad things happen. For me, acknowledging it’s hard, and that each test pushes me past what I think I can do, even as I usually come out ok, is how I get the strength to pull together and move on with life. But there’s a flip side. You have to knowledge the good. Believe it or not, I just did.

Thank you G-d, from the bottom of the healthy heart You gave me, written with the fingers that feel pretty good today, recognized with the amazing brain You gave me to use, on the computer that works well, for a day that was good not just in hindsight, but right here and now.