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Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning marking the destruction of the Temple—as well as other massacres, pogroms, expulsions, devastations—begins this Saturday night.

It’s a time to grieve into the horror of what has happened. The horror of what is.

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The night of Tisha B’Av we read the Book of Lamentations; it’s devastating. It forces you to face the atrocities wreaked upon a people—starvation and murder and desperation and assault—and, achingly, in ch 3, this suffering through a first person lens.
It is a time to weep and mourn, to stick your finger in the proverbial socket of suffering—the suffering that has been, the suffering that is now. The suffering we try so hard to avoid, to intellectualize, to compartmentalize, to scroll past.
It is a time to wail, to mourn, to scream, “why??!?” Even if on some intellectual level we are sure we know how to explain, in the place where pain is, there are no answers.
We don’t, in our culture now, make space for this. Not really.

It’s hard. Letting in the horrors, the suffering, the pain isn’t fun. It doesn’t feel good, or safe. It causes our walls, as Rabbi Alan Lew taught, to come crashing down.

But refusing to feel costs us.
Rabbi Lew talks about the way the walls crumbling can make us ready to hear the wake up call of the shofar, ready to start looking at all the ways we have fallen short and to begin working anew to become the person we were supposed to be all along. And I think that’s true.
But it’s also just about seeing all this pain for what it is, naming it, letting it tear us apart for a time—a circumscribed, ritually marked time, we can’t spend forever sobbing on the floor, we’re needed in the world. But if we never give ourselves space to feel, what are we?
And yes, classically this day is about mourning the atrocities befallen the Jewish people over the last 2000 years, but I for one cannot read abt “babies & sucklings languishing in the squares of the city” without thinking of children ripped now from their parents, without care.
I cannot read, “all your enemies Jeer at you; They hiss and gnash their teeth, And cry: “We’ve ruined her! Ah, this is the day we hoped for; We have lived to see it!”” without thinking about white supremacy today.
No, of course this isn’t the plain meaning of the text. But the pain of now is real. The suffering of now is real.
How can I read, “Alas, priest and prophet are slain In the Sanctuary of the Lord!” and not think of Pittsburgh, Poway, Emanuel AME in Charleston, the Sikh Temple in WI?

Or of Sandy Hook? Of Pulse? All the times innocents were slaughtered in the midst of their lives and love?
“Prostrate in the streets lie Both young and old. My maidens and youths Are fallen by the sword”.

This is the suffering and pain of then.

This is the suffering and pain of now.
We have work to do.

We have action to take.

We have people and a democracy to fight for.

But we also have to make space to really experience the devastation of now.

This is a time of crisis.

Of human rights abuses.

Of people, of children suffering without reason.
If we can make space to weep, to wail, to lament—to ask the “why?” that has no answer—we allow ourselves to be human during this inhuman time.

We let the unspeakable touch us; we let it matter.

We open ourselves to the truth of what’s happening.
Which maybe then can help us to become the people that we are supposed to be, the people we have strayed from in our narrowness, our selflishness, our fervent desire to just keep on scrolling.

We can become the people the world urgently, desperately needs us to be now.
Not just for Jews to come. Everyone, please, show up. Actions near you this weekend and early next week. #CloseTheCamps

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