On June 11 we had Rosh Chodesh of Tammuz and coming Sunday several will remember the Seventeenth of Tammuz commemorating the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple, the beginning of the three-week mourning period leading up to Tisha B’Av.
Historically the “Three Weeks” between the fast days of 17th of Tammuz (June 27, 2021) and Tisha B’Av (July 18, 2021) have been days of misfortune and calamity for the Jewish people, in which God is so to speak more distant from His people.
The ninth day of the month of Av also commemorates multiple tragedies in Jewish history, ranging from God decreeing that the Israelites would wander in the desert for 40 years to Jews being expelled by decree from England in 1290 and from Spain in 1492.
On the 17th of Tammuz Moses broke the Tablets after the Sin of the Golden Calf, and the Roman breached the walls of Jerusalem, among other tragedies. On the 9th of Av, the nation of the Exodus cried as a result of the negative report of the Spies, and both Temples were destroyed, among other tragedies.
These days are referred to as the period “within the straits” (bein hametzarim), in accordance with the verse:
“All her oppressors have overtaken her within the straits” (Lamentations 1:3).
This year the period before the Three weeks has seen a lot of fights at the place for which we mourn the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh.
Similar to the period of the Omer, no weddings, parties, or public celebrations are held, but those have already been postponed for a very long time because of CoViD-19. The way how people express their feelings about the loss of the Temple is very different. We should always respect each other’s choice. In certain houses it has become very quiet these days, no music sounding.
During “The Three Weeks” or Bein Hametzarim, the 21-day period from Tammuz 17 to Av 9 when we mourn and are full of sadness for the destruction of the Holy Temple and the onset of the centuries-long galut (exile and spiritual displacement) we take the time to remember what has been, how God’s People lost their sacred place for worship but also how we shall have to continue these days.
We have no choice to “live with the times”. But many people do forget we can interfere more than we think. We should not sit still at the side and let everything happen.
It is much too easy just to say “we can not do anything” and “the political leaders just do what they want”.
The last few weeks we could see many hostile environments asking for attention. The Corona-lockdown period was for many people also a testing period. It was a time when people could show the extent to which they could control themselves and uphold each other’s safety. No meetings with many people, no parties or debauchery. Lots of time to spend in the family and to keep even more isolated than the rest of the time.
That isolation and much more time than usual gave enough time for introspection. For months, we now had time to discover how our “toughness” and intractability in our faith is not a hindrance to achievement and creativity, but actually an aid in our endeavour to transform the corner of the world to which we have been dispatched on the mission to build a home for Hashem.
For centuries, our race has learned to face many hardships. The many problems generations of our people had to face made it that we got a “hard skin”. Hardness is also one of those qualities which we are forever seeking to acquire and to rid ourselves of at the same time.
Throughout our life, we have to learn by falling and standing up again. Sometimes the hard way, we have learned that our journey through life requires firmness as well as flexibility, hardness as well as pliancy. To continue through the storms, we must be like a blade of grass or reed, able to follow the stream of the wind. When we would be stubborn and hard like bambu or cedar, we would break. But we may not be too soft. We need all the “backbone” and stiffness we can muster to resist all that threatens our integrity and seeks to deter us from our mission in life.
In the words of Rabbi Bunim of Pshischa:
“A person should have two pockets in his coat. In one pocket he should keep the pasuk, ‘I am but dust and ashes’; his second pocket should contain the Talmudic saying, ‘A person is commanded to say: For my sake was the world created.’”
Several Jeshuaists and other Jews were not able to visit their family in Israel for more than a year. Many members of the Jeshuaist community were taken by another fear this time than the antisemitism in our regions. In Israel, from the 840,522 Coronavirus cases there were only 6,429 deaths and by now the majority of the population is protected by vaccinations. In Belgium, those vaccinations go terribly and outrageous slow.
With the lockdown many have felt as being locked up in their own home and being expelled from their loved ones in Israel and those shattered all over the Northern Hemisphere as well in Australia and New Zealand.
Today we can look forward to slowly unleashing the restrictions and over a few months having possibilities again to see each other in real life again. Then we shall be able to join for remembering how Moshe pleaded to the Adonai that the destruction of Israel will be seen by the other nations as God’s lack of omnipotence. Those words of Moshe to his Holy Father made the Elohim reconsider, and Moshe came down the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands. That Moshe pleaded to God on behalf of the Jewish people, and for forty days prayed that the Elohim would restore Israel to its previous state of eminence, is something we remember these days and are pleased with that the Hashem provided a second set of tablets to be delivered to the Jewish people. Jehovah God revealed His thirteen attributes of mercy, and so the story ends but is carried in our hearts forever.
Our God, the God of the Hebrews, is surely a God of love, which gives us hope and something to look forward to. But the Elohim is also a God of accountability Who expects we take on the right attitude and keep to His mitzvot. We must be fully aware that we as B’nei Elohim (Children of God) can not just walk away from our misdeeds. We are held accountable, responsible, and expected to mend our ways when we err; and if we don’t, there’s a price to be paid by us all for improper actions.
The Babylonian conquest of God’s holy city Jerusalem and the nation of Judah, plus the stories of bad kings, poor decisions, temple treasures plundered, men and women forced into exile, rebellion, siege ramps around Jerusalem, starvation, fleeing king captured and tortured, temple and city set on fire, officers executed, more and more exiles, governor assassinated, fleeing for safety, may bring our hearts in tears. We can not be blind to God’s anger, but at the same time, we can not be blind to seeing how the Elohim always kept an eye on His People. That is not different today.
The Elohim may not be pleased to see how certain Jews treat Palestinians, gentiles or Christians and Muslims, living in Israel. The world should know that not all Jews agree with actions taken by certain non-religious Jews and by extreme ultra-nationalist Jews. We also are sad for certain actions by American Jews and Zionists who came to live in Israel but have no respect for other Jews or other believers and non-believers. Often they think they own the country.
Such bad behaviour makes us sad. But these days, remembering all the difficult periods the Jews have had to face in the past, we feel that we are coming closer to the end times and that soon we shall be able to live by the hope the Elohim promised His People.
Many of our community live by many fears. Next to the fear of discrimination and antisemitism came fear of being alone, isolated and rejected, for some even fear of ruin having come over them by months of close down or not able to do proper business. Many are also taken by fear of regret but some also by fear of responsibility.
The readings of this weekend and the following days should strengthen us in our faith in our Divine Creator.
Have some days of contemplation or serious reflection to build further hope in a glorious future provided by the Elohim.
- The fear of the Lord
- Like grasshoppers
- Elul Observances
- Recognising Jehovah’s sovereignty
- Today’s thought “Sound an alarm for the day of Jehovah that comes” (November 19)
- Isolation; June 22, 2021
- The Corona Diaries – Day 457
- Days in Isolation: Day 465
- What Fear Really Means
- Day 24 – UK Lockdown Extended
- Going up against the Zionist lobby
- Violence in Lod
- Chicago: Protest against Israeli State Terrorism, ethnic cleansing and genocide!
- Op:ed piece : Russia Today : The Palestinian vs. Israeli War in 2021
- The Evil (Dead) Ideology of Political Judaism
- A One State “Solution”
- Israel and its allies’ profit from oppressing Palestinians
- The Three Weeks: The Original Broken Tablet — By Ben
- Shabbos Parshas Pinchos – July 11, 2020 – 19 Tammuz 5780
- Moving Forward: By Rabbi Pinchos Lipshutz
- Into Exile
- 35. Suffering and the God of Love
- No Big Deal, Next Year Will Be Business As Usual
- 22/03/21: 5 years after the bombings in Brussel, 1 year after the corona lockdown
- States, UTs can impose local curbs to control rising covid-19 cases: Centre
- Strict on Holi due to Covid-19, these are guidelines in these states
- Always quitting
- A corona holiday: staying local
- Is God Kind or Severe?
- A Reflection on Psalm 6
- Fear Not? I Don’t Think So.
- Do not fear. We are on the winning side. God loves you.
- The Biblical Understanding of Evil