Thursday, August 3, 2017
This year (2017) almost immediately after the 3 weeks had finished we had a family simcha (brit mila). The stark transition between 3 weeks of mourning, unfortunately filled with current tragedies to mourn, and sudden simcha got me thinking. As Jews we have trouble keeping our happiness separate from our hardships. At our smachot we remember the chourban (destruction of the Temple) and family that has left us. When something is good, we feel the need to add “bli ayin hara” (it should be without the evil eye) to the end of the sentence. What does this say about us, that we can not have our good without our bad? Are we a pessimistic people by nature, a weak people? A people incapable of appreciating the good we have? And then I thought about the holocaust- arguably the darkest time in our history. I thought about the strength and hope that survived the Nazis. I thought about the Jews that kept shabbat as best they could, that protected their Sefrei Torah, that never stopped praying or believing in G-d. I thought about the warriors who fought back and the mothers who protected their children above all else. One conclusion was clear, we are not a weak people. We have endured hardship after hardship, attack after attack, and victory after victory. And this I believe is why we can not separate our good from our bad, our hardship from our happiness. Our national struggles are an inherent part of who we are, like it or not. But the hand of G-d, guiding us through history, is just as much a part of who we are. He has given us a homeland and taken it away when we didn't deserve it. He has helped us survive expulsions, pogroms, hatred, and disdain. He has brought us back home after 2000 years of wandering. We are not done struggling yet, we have a long way to go. Our enemies surround us and, even worse, we are too often our own enemy. Our Temple has not been restored, because we have not yet earned it. So we mourn every year for 3 weeks and we remember the chourban at our weddings to remind us of the work we still have to do. But we also celebrate the beginning of our geula. And what better reason to celebrate than a new Jewish soul, born in his homeland, among his people. We must not forget our strength, especially when things seem dark. Now is the time to fight.