Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Parashat D'varim- Pre-Tisha B'Av- Yearning


Libi bamizrach va’anokhi bsof ma’arav.
Eich etamah eit asher ochal v’ein ye’erav?
Eikhah ashaleim n’darai ve’esarai, b’od Tzion bchevel Edom va’ni b’khevel Arav?
Yeikal b’einai azov kol tuv s’farad, k’mo yeikar b’einai r’ot afrot d’vir ne’chrav.

My heart is in the east, and I at the end of the west.
How can I even taste what I eat; how can it be sweet to me?
How shall I fulfill my vows and my bonds,
while Zion is under the domain of Edom and I am chained to Arabia?
It would be easy in my eyes to leave all the best of Spain,
As it is precious for me even to glimpse the dust of the desolate sanctuary.

Yehuda Halevi wrote these words from Moorish Spain during the late 11th century. His yearning for even a glimpse of Israel pours out through the words. On Monday evening, we will sit in the sanctuary, amidst candlelight, and read the book of Eikha, Lamentations. Halevi’s use of the word “Eikha,” “How,” in the third verse calls of the words of this book, which begins, “Eikha yashva badad…” “How she sits alone…”
The book of Eikha tells the story of the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem and its aftermath. This year, I expect the reading to be particularly poignant following these past weeks. Watching and reading the news day after day, we can feel Halevi’s longing to be with his country. There is both a feeling of achdut, of unity, and of loneliness in reading and watching the news. There is a pain that effects us all when we hear of each missile, of each anti-Semitic statement. If you attended the Rally With The people of Israel, you will remember the room rising as Rabbi Frydman-Kohl called upon groups to rise in succession-
            All those who have a son or daughter, a brother or sister, or a parent in Israel
            All those who have cousins or other family in Israel
            All those who have friends or acquaintances in Israel
It did not take long before the entire room was standing. To be a Jew is to be connected around the world. It is a wonderful and beautiful thing. It is unique in this world, and a thing to be treasured. Nonetheless, it is also, at times, a painful thing for it connects us in a real and tangible way to the pains suffered by all Jews everywhere.
On Monday night we will sit, and we will mourn. This year we will mourn not only the loss of the ancient Temple. We will mourn the loss of life. We will mourn the lives forever changed by the need to go to battle. We will mourn the childhoods lost to sirens.
And then, we will go on. We will go on because that is what we do. Beyond all our people are survivors. We will defend each other. We will fight for our freedom, and we will look towards the coming year with hope.