In the Narrows: Avodat Hashem in the Three Weeks

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The Three Weeks, bein ha’metzarim, are naturally associated with tragedy and mourning. Yet, at the same time, our sages tell us that in the future this will be a time of great simcha. Is it a coincidence that these days of mourning will become days of joy?

Today’s Mourning and Tomorrow’s Joy

It’s true, these days of mourning will become days of rejoicing, but there’s more to it than that. Our sages weren’t predicting the future, they were revealing the beneath-the-surface essence of these days, an essence that exists right now. Within these days is vast potential, the hidden light that is the light, the ohr, of the future redemption.

In a certain way, the light that will shine through these days in the future, is a far higher light than exists in all the other holidays. This is the meaning of the idea that in the future, the redemption from Egypt will be overshadowed by the final redemption. Though this ultimate light is waiting behind the curtain of history, we come into contact with it during the Three Weeks. Ironically, it’s through our pain and mourning that we meet this future light.

Beit HaMikdosh, Tomorrow and Today

Yesod Gadol: Here we find an important principle. That the profound feeling of lacking we experience now is precisely what’s needed to connect with the remarkable future that is just waiting to become manifest. It’s the lacking, the awful sense that something essential is missing, that urges us to bring that potential out from behind the curtain and onto center stage of our life, the life of our nation. Without feeling that there is a gaping hole in Am Yisroel without the Beit HaMikdosh, we won’t feel the longing for it’s restoration, or be motivated to bring it about.

“Anyone that mourns over Yerusholayim, will merit to to see it’s comfort and joy.” Tanit, 30a

Mourning is the way we draw the joy of the future into the present.

That’s Life

In life, when we feel that something is missing, we are driven to fill the void. In a sense, the very lack of something attaches us to it’s rectification. This is true for each of us, and the collective all of us. The ache of missing something is an outgrowth of the awareness of what can be. The ache of missing something can lead to despair, but it mustn’t. Rather, it’s there to tell us that we are connected to something that’s actually here, beneath the surface, something, a shleimut, that is lying in wait, and thus, is actually alive.

Destruction and Redemption

The sorrow and mourning of churban, of destruction, are rays of light from the future. It’s as if the future Beit HaMikdosh were calling out to us, and these calls are rays of light that shine in through windows of sadness, planting the seeds for the geula of tomorrow. Above ground, so to speak, we are in mourning, but beneath the top soil of our souls, we are rooted in the rich light of redemption. At the same time that we are in pain, we are confident, even comforted, in knowing that the future we so long for, in a sense, is here right now.

Like Dreamers

“Shir Ha’maalot: A song of ascents; when God returns the captivity of Zion, we will be like dreamers.” Tehillim 126

Dreaming is a way to imagine the future.

Dreaming forges the initial connection with the potent potential of a future fulfilled.

Dreams are unfettered by the constraints and blemishes of the present.

Dreams nourish our longing to transform the future into reality.

Dreams fortify us, empower us.

From, “we will be like dreamers,” to “those that plant in tears, will reap with song.”

Tears can be like seeds. And so too like rain drops.

Tears liberate life from subterranean darkness.

Slowly slowly the dance of dreams and tears bring forth the will reap with song of the rebuilt

The Opportunity of Mourning

These three weeks are deep and laden with potential to connect our hearts to the Beit HaMikdosh, and to draw brilliant rays of light into our now, our today, our reality. Rays of shleimut, of filling every void, and healing every lacking.

These days are the tikkun chatzot of the year.

This is the time to set aside time; to be alone and to focus. To envision the Beit HaMikdosh, the future, and to open our hearts to the grandest potential. To yearn and long. For geula.

This is the time to dream; and to see the Levites singing in the courtyard of the Mikdosh. To imagine Am Yisroel flowing to Jerusalem—the magnificent jewel-city in it’s stunning glory—host to the Nation’s festival gatherings.

This is the precious avoda of this time period.

Dreams are not just glimpses of the future,
they are bridges from here to there, and back again.
From mourning to rejoicing.
From future to present.
From galut to geula unfolding.
And from our geula unfolding, to geula shleima.

Translated and adapted by Shimon Apisdorf

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