Posts Tagged ‘Tisha B’Av’

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If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775 Introduction http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

This is what it takes to create a spiritual home wherever you go.

This is what it takes to create a spiritual home wherever you go.


Over the past 4 days, since Rosh Hodesh Elul (the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul), I have been actively preparing for Rosh HaShana and loving every moment of it.  And then suddenly this morning as I sang some of the verses from Psalm 27*, I felt a bit bereft because for the first time in my life, I do not feel like I have a spiritual home.  As a professional Jew, I have previously had communities that were easier for me to be a part of spiritually, but I have rarely felt uncomfortable in a community I have worked.  Only one time, I heard a rabbi give a sermon on Yom Kippur in which he said that Tisha B’Av should be disregarded.  It was the one and only time I almost walked out of High Holy Day services with my family.

Judaism is a part of my essence.  I love how it fits into my life, pushes me to think, and creates a cocoon where I can live.

I am a God-Wrestler.  I question, I pray, I hope, I vision and I wrestle.  And on the days that I don’t quite know how God fits into my practice of Judaism, I let go and trust the universe.  And throughout it all, I try to live a life of Godliness.  Every place I walk is a sanctuary, so why in this moment should I feel like I have no spiritual home.  The mountains and the desert are seriously my sanctuary.  I love the earth; I love so many special spaces that exude God-like energy.  I used to have a yoga studio that felt like God’s sanctuary.  Today, there is no space that is calling me for the Rosh HaShanah, yet I have to take my kids to services for the High Holy Days.

And did I say, I literally have no money for the holidays or for much? What a concept for me.  The good news is that my old ‘congregation’ of employment wouldn’t turn me a way and I believe other congregations would open their doors too, but still it is sad for me.  I believe that if I weren’t a mother, I would choose to create a spiritual space by myself or with a few others.  I love Judaism and I love living it!

So as I take each day of Elul to create a stronger physical and spiritual core, I am grappling with feeling like I have no place to go.  And yet, in reality, I know that my sons and I will feel comfortable wherever we go.  Tucson is full of loving synagogue communities.  Can’t wait to hear the shofar blown as I sit within community.

Feeling blessed even as I struggle with some challenging realities.  The sun and moon always shine brightly in the desert.

With blessings & light,

*From Rosh Hodesh Elul through Simchat Torah, it is part of the Jewish tradition to say Psalm 27 two times a day.  Here is a link to the Psalm in Hebrew and English. http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt2627.htm


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Today is Tisha B’Av, a day to remember so many atrocities that occurred on the 9th of Av throughout our Jewish history.  The primary ones being the destruction of the both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem; this is followed by expulsions of the Jews from England and Spain to more localized disasters. In http://www.myjewishlearning.com, it said that the “rabbis of the Talmudic age made the claim that God ordained this day as a day of disaster as punishment for the lack of faith evidenced by the Israelites during their desert wanderings after the exodus from Egypt.”  Another teaching that has been brought down to us from our scholars is that the Second Temple was destroyed due to sinat chinam, senseless hatred from one Jew to another.

The destruction surrounding Tisha B’Av can be described as tragic in every way.  And while we can acknowledge this reality, we struggle to comprehend how to come to grips with those realities and how to find meaning with those realities in our day.  Many of us do not believe in the all-powerful God that would destroy lives due to the sins of those before us, but we do feel deep pain for the loss of both Jews and non-Jews alike.  Also many of us would not want to bring back the animal sacrifices of the Temple or some of the other traditions.  The bottom-line is that many of us still choose to commemorate the destruction of the Temple and to remember other events of this date in history.

Over the past few days, I have said amazing conversations with folks on Facebook that are trying to weave an understanding of the destruction that happened so long ago.  What I love about these conversations is that each of us our trying to give the destruction a context for our lives today, but if all we do is lament the state of the world today, there is no hope left to get us to the next moment in time.  We have to have hope if we are going to flourish and do some serious tikun olam, healing the world.  Besides living in the darkness for more than a day (or even three weeks) doesn’t serve us well.  When we live in darkness, we can’t find a way to move forward and do the work of the living.

For a moment, lets take a look at the travesties that are still going on in Darfur, among other places.  I also think we should consider climate change (formerly understood as global warming), or maybe we should look at poverty/disease throughout the world, or hunger in our country, or even in our neighborhood.  And let’s not forget our beloved Israel with all of her warts.  The list is long and painful and yet so many of us are doing the work of tikun olam in one or more aspects of our lives.   There is so much that is going on around us that allow us to do our part so that destruction doesn’t have to continue in our days.

We can also be sensitive as we walk through life.  In http://triganza.blogspot.com/2011/08/for-lost-homes.html, one friend of mine helped me to understand Tisha B’Av in a poem in which she spoke about the loss of her own home due to financial turmoil.  Perspective.  There are so many ways to understand disasters.  So many people are struggling with illness and financial challenges.  Take a step forward and offer help regardless of their religious practices or political views.  The hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis of the past few years held everyone hostage with their furor.  Every one of us was touched by the sheer devastation.

Reading, Eicha, Lamentations on Tisha B’Av is a good way to gain perspective and to understand our history.  And then looking at the modern day challenges.  How can you make a difference?  The Second Temple was destroyed because of senseless hatred between Jews of different sects; do we personally have some senseless hatred or prejudice to someone, some sect of Judaism, to a difficult person?  At some point we can start looking for ways to build fences or relationship with others that we don’t necessarily connect with on a normal basis.

Going into the darkness and then looking for ways to heal is powerful.  Life isn’t always kind; that is a reality.  Yes it is easier to be optimistic when things are going good, but we also need to find the light when they aren’t.  People die tragically; disasters happen; life is full of tragedy.  And yet even in the darkest moments, we have to continue to do the work of healing.  Simply put, it is about survival.  In order to gain perspective that can propel us to higher ground, we can also look at where do we fit in the bigger world and what can we learn. If we don’t start learning from the past and the present, their power will continue growing in strength and perhaps destruction. If we can work on our community, our sphere, or even in the larger world. . .the ripples are enormous.

`“Be the change you want to see in the world.” spoken by Mahatma Gandhi – This saying is a guide post that can always propel us forward in the face of tragedy.

On a very personal note, I learned many things when I dealt with my own near tragedy and in my horrible realities. (Life for me is great now.) Tragedy happens, violence, pain, etc, the question is how do we walk through the hell.  We always have a choice. What I learn from Tisha B’Av is that I have a choice on how I act, how I relate to the world, and how I move through that which I don’t understand.  I can always make a difference wherever I am.  I can always be better, smile more, and help someone who needs a hand.  And in the face of deep challenges, I can do the same. I can also look for ways to help and inspire others to make a difference.  In today’s society, there is often something we can do to make a difference even in the most heinous of times.

Another quick point, I changed my name to Chava Gal-Or about 8 years ago. In a nutshell this entire conversation can be summed up by my name. Chava means life. I always seek life and I have survived some painfully dark times.  Gal-Or means wave of light. I seek and mostly find light even in the darkest of situations.  I also seek to find light in most everyone.  For me, the name I gave myself, constantly reminds me to seek life, heal life, and be part of life.  It also reminds me to find the light and work towards the light in every interaction.

In the last verse of Eicha, the last verse says, “Return us God and we will be returned, renew our days as in ancient times”. The verse is actually repeated at last night’s reading in order to end upbeat? “Renew” and “as in ancient times” would seem, on the surface, to be contradictory.  But not so much if we live in both a renewed future and ancient times simultaneously.

May we each find personal meaning in Tisha B’Av and renewal in the coming days.

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