Tisha B’Av- 2008
Sometimes the words flow from my fingertips through the keyboard and onto the screen. Sometimes they say exactly what I want them to say, their meaning is clear and I am happy. But sometimes they fail to convey what I need or want them to share, their meaning is garbled and unclear.
It can be a terribly frustrating experience, but it sometimes serves as a good reminder to take a moment and consider what is taking place around me. Tisha B’Av is a day that I use to reflect and remember and to look forward upon that which is coming.
I don’t know why, but I am reminded of some of the lyrics from Graceland:
“There is a girl in New York City,
Who calls herself the human trampoline,
And sometimes when I’m falling flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Whoa so this is what she means,
She means we’re bouncing into Graceland,
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart,
Everybody sees you’re blown apart,
Everybody feels the wind blow,”
Scratch that, I know why I thought of it. A dear friend of my parents is in the midst of tremendous turmoil. Last year he lost the person he cared for most and now he is lost and unsure. A grown man, unsteady on his feet and although his eyes are open his vision has been stolen from him.
Heartbreak can do that to you. A broken heart can make you lose the ability to feel the warmth of the sun and to see the blue of the skies. A broken heart can make you question all that you are and all that you thought you would be.
Tisha B’Av reminds me of heartbreak on many levels, like I said it is a day that I use for thought. I could write more, but I think for now I’ll share some pieces of some old posts with you instead.
“Shabbos may be spiritual and religious in nature, but letâ€™s face it. A group of teens on their own in a foreign country, there is bound to be some activity because we were all on hormonal overdrive.
So I was a bit surprised with my reaction to our first Shabbos in country. It began with a walk from the base to the Old City, the Kotel was our destination. I remember parts of it well. The conversation I had with a very dear friend stands out to me, some of the buildings and people do too.
But it wasnâ€™t until we began walking over the rooftops in the Old City that I began to notice that there was something special in the air. It wasnâ€™t until we got closer to the Kotel itself that I really began to feel something.
It was the connection that I had felt there earlier in the week. The bond that I felt towards all the other Jews in the plaza who were davening and the unmistakable feeling that G-d was there with me, us, them, everyone.
It was stronger than it had been before.
It was almost surreal.
I felt like I was in some kind of science-fiction movie in which I was traveling through time and space. It sounds goofy, but I really did feel like I was standing in the same place that I had been in thousands of years before and at the same time experiencing it for the first time.
And more than anything else I was pleased to feel like I was part of the group, I was in on the secret. I was happy to be able to daven with kavanah and real belief and not to sitting there waiting for Maariv to end. It wasn’t a chore to be endured but a pleasure.
It was just one more piece of chain that brought me back into the fold that made me believe again. This is a story that really could be much longer and much more eloquent and to some extent I feel that I am not doing it justice because how I can share something like
this, how can I explain something that tugs at places so deep inside you donâ€™t know that they exist.
If I was a man of brevity I would end this tale here, but there is too much to share, too much to say and I need to add another moment or two to my story.
The next morning at Shacharit I was a little disappointed because that feeling from the night before was fading. It was like an amazing dream, the kind that you wish would never end so you try to go back to sleep and get it back, hold onto it so that it doesn’t disappear. But trying to do that with a dream is a little bit like grabbing a fistful of water, no matter how tight your grip it spills out from a million different places.
I can remember daydreaming, lost in thought of the night before. We had danced with reckless abandon and sung out loud, almost shouting the prayers, but still with reverence. There was a power and an energy. As I look back I realize that it was a little bit like being buzzed, there was a high and I fed off of it. All week I waited for Shabbos to return so that I could experience it again and each time I got lost in the moment. I began to wonder if this feeling was going to be limited in time and place. I got my answer a little later.
It was Tisha B’AV and we were in the hills overlooking the Old City. We read Eicha and discussed the burning of the Temple, the sack of Jerusalem and the moment made a huge impact upon me. I could look out on the city and picture the flames, in my mind Jerusalem was burning. I could hear the screams of the women and children, smell the fear and feel the greed of the invaders.
I might have cried, but I couldn’t tell you for certain. I was so caught up in the moment, so enthralled and so amazed that something could move me that way.
The next day we returned to the Kotel and again I lost myself in the crowd, but this time I made my way amongst the crowd to the wall itself and just lay my head against it. My eyes were closed and my hands caressed the stone.
Time passed and the end of the trip grew closer. I began to get anxious about returning to Los Angeles because Jerusalem had become home to me. If I could have I would have stayed. I would have stayed indefinitely.”
I am spent. Here is one more link. I’ll be back later: Eicha- An Aching Heart Mumbles.