Teaching for Tisha b'Av: The Place of All Possibilities
Chodesh Tov! Welcome to the Hebrew month of Av. Next week on Tisha b’Av (the 9th of Av), Jews will gather to chant the sorrowful words of the book of Eicha (Lamentations), in its haunting liturgical melody, mourning the destruction of the First and Second Temples. These ancient Temples were once the very fulcrum on which Jewish life turned. On Tisha b’Av, we tap into the grief our ancestors felt as their system of community, governance, security, religious practice and connection to the Divine collapsed before their eyes.
By making space for the grief of what has been lost, Tisha b’Av also provides a powerful opportunity for us to reimagine what might be. When the ancient Temple fell apart, new raw materials became available for rebuilding and reconfiguring Jewish life and religious practice - eventually leading to the creation of rabbinic Judaism, a completely new iteration of religious life. Similarly, as systems we have come to rely upon fail us today, we have the opportunity to let go of the structures that no longer serve us, so that we might begin to create the world we imagine.
Mourning what has been lost is an essential stop on our way to the place of all possibilities. The creative process is an ideal vehicle for this journey, providing us a way to approach our sadness, to know our grief, and then to be big and bold as we venture forth. This Tisha b’Av may we emerge connected, empathic and awake. May we hold the loss we feel tenderly in our hands as we begin to reconfigure our broken fragments into their next vibrant iteration. In so doing, may we expand the boundaries of what is possible as we work to build the world of our dreams.