Everything that goes up must come down. That’s science. Judaism says everything that goes down has the equivalent potential to go up. Our biggest national tragedies and our biggest personal weaknesses can be catapulted into our biggest simchas and achievements.
And so the three weeks of national mourning is fast approaching, when the energy of the period is somewhat dangerous for the Jewish people (and historically has proven to be the case with many tragedies). On the first day of mourning, I arrive in Israel. It’s a fast day (17th Tammuz, this year 15th July), which starts off three weeks of no music, no weddings, no haircuts, no new clothes, and culminating in the last day, another fast day, called Tisha B’Av.
All these customs are there to help us feel and appreciate what it means to be alone, disconnected from our roots, from Hashem, from each other. We mourn disconnection. We mourn that the Temple was destroyed during this period. Twice. Why the Temple? Who cares about a building? We care, because it was the actualisation of the true unity that existed between the Jewish people. It was a direct correlation and metaphor for us. The cherubs at the center of the Temple, in the most inner chamber, stood face to face, united together. In our unity, the cherubs united, the holy Temple stood, and Hashem was united with us. And when we started to hate one another, obviously the Temple could not stand, and Hashem’s presence could no longer be revealed. For He is ultimate unity, Oneness, and we are each a part of Him. So, He cannot be close to us if we are not close to each other. It defies His essence. And so we mourn His absence, the absence of our Temple, but ultimately the absence of our own unity.
There is hope in our mourning! Our sages tell us that those who mourn the destruction of Jerusalem will merit seeing it rebuilt. How powerful it is to soak in the energy of destruction and convert it to energy of rebuilding. We have the power to do that. To be the vessel for change.
Change what? The fragmentation itself. The fear of the other. Internal fighting and vilification. Secular vs Religeous. Ashkenazi vs Sephardi. Litvish vs Chassidish. Left and Right. The actual mourning period becomes simcha because we ourselves turn the core disconnection that exists into unity. We no longer need to mourn when we have unity. The mourning seizes in and of itself. And then, the other natural outcome: within our unity, Hashem’s unity can be revealed and the holy Temple will be rebuilt.
It’s up to you. And me. Go!