Yeah yeah … I cheat. I go to Facebook and make sure this blog is linking properly. And then I quietly scroll through to see what folks are up to, if there are any good jokes, what’s happening in the world. And I feel bad and guilty and want to go to confession and then…
I remember that I’m Jewish.
I did NOT cheat on my observation of Tisha b’Av.
I fasted from sundown to sundown. I didn’t shower or brush my hair. I mourned all the losses and suffering of Israel and the Jewish people. I mourned for the IDF soldiers who had to carry out attacks on civilian targets because there were bombs there. I mourn the lost of the Gaza families who were forced to stay even when they were warned to leave. I mourned the losses on both sides.
I looked up at the ark, and the doors were open, revealing nothing.
The Torahs were gone, The ark was empty. I was overwhelmed with grief and devastation and shock. I’d known they would be gone, it’s tradition. But the shock of it was so intense I could barely breathe, and tears filled my eyes.
A world without Torah, without Judaism, without the Jewish people – it can’t happen. It would be unbalanced, askew, tilted off course somehow.
Then the first Torah scroll was brought back and put in the ark. I’ve rarely felt such intense relief. There wasn’t joy, just a profound exhale. And anticipation that the other two would follow and be returned. We and the world could and would recover balance.
And I prayed and sang in shul knowing there was a cease-fire, that the IDF ground forces were pulling back into Israel, and hoping Gaza would fire no more rockets. I dared hope for peace in that region, for calm to settle in, for relationships to be repaired along with the buildings. I prayed that Hamas would disband, would not try again to build more tunnels. I prayed that Iran would mind their own business.
Jews can live in peace.
We live in peace every day. War was not something we looked forward to, or were proud of, or ever want to see happen. We want peace. We also want to continue to exist.
I drank deeply. I ate appreciatively. I came home and washed the mourning off my body, out of my hair. I slept well. I woke up grateful to be Jewish – and that’s where I found the joy.