Reflecting & Rebuilding
Tomorrow evening, as the sun sets, Tisha B’av will begin. The name translates as the date on the Jewish calendar (the 9th of the month of Av). It is a fast day and a day of mourning that primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem, a little under two thousand years ago.
I was thinking about the profundity of this day through the lens of the end of life and the power in a communal day of grief and mourning. A time to look inward, to cry, to acknowledge our diaspora and dispersals, both literally and figuratively.
In the same breath, I was feeling exhaustion at the thought of devoting more time to sadness when there have already been many reasons to shed tears.
When there are walls, I am the person who tries to find a way around. What can I do that will make this moment easier to get through - for myself or for others? After the last 18 months, having a special day to sit with our grief feels almost redundant. Yet, sometimes sitting with sadness is all we can do.
The painful truth is that there isn’t much that can be done immediately ease grief or suffering, for ourselves or for others. Our souls are not healed overnight, and sometimes the best we can offer is space, an ear, a hand to hold, unconditional love, time. And in those moments that we are not filling the air with words, we go inwards. We process the pain and sadness and hope that, in time, we will all grow stronger.
As we reflect on the literal walls that tumbled down millennia ago we are also reflecting on our own metaphorical walls. We might be asking ourselves what’s broken in our lives? Where am I no longer whole? Rabbi Jen Gubitz wrote about this beautifully in her recent Lilith piece:
“Sometimes the walls of life come falling down around us: but in time we pick up the pieces to rebuild. We pack and unpack the boxes of our lives, casting away what no longer serves us…”
When Tisha B’av is completed, we’ll be seven weeks away from the High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year) and Yom Kippur (the day of atonement - get ready folks, this one is *packed* with end of life metaphor). The last time we counted seven weeks it was to receive the Torah. This time it is to receive ourselves in the new year.
The work of rebuilding starts from brokenness. For some that space is raw and recent and we, your community, will sit by you and hold you close. When the time is right, we will rise and turn to reflect on the year that was, in order to build a strong foundation for the year to come.
ON THE POD
Episode 08: Arielle Friedtanzer
In this episode, Arielle shares how she came to be an End of Life Consultant, talks about how her cross country road trip was an opportunity to teach Jewish communities end of life planning, and explores how these big conversations don’t usually include young people and why we need to change that.