Thursday, July 9, 2015

Repairing the Rent in the Walls

The walls of Jerusalem were breached on the 17th of Tammuz, in the run up to the Destruction of the Second Temple, on the 9th of Av (T'isha B'Av). The breach of those walls has been acutely felt ever since as a time of Divine Judgment. It's a time when observant Jews are cautious to avoid situations which might invite calamity. You wouldn't, for instance, schedule elective surgery during the Three Weeks.

You can avoid elective surgery and push it off to September. But there is nothing you can do about the terrible karma all around you. Tempers get short. People get nasty with each other.

It's in the air.

At home, parents are urged to be extra gentle with their children. Behaviors you'd normally punish with a timeout? Well, you just let it go, or your kids is going to unleash a waterfall of tears. A disproportionate response to a timeout? Not during the Three Weeks when God's attribute of "din," Divine Judgment, is all around us.

Everything feels acute, more raw. More real.

It's as if that breach in the walls of Jerusalem was echoed by a rent in the Heavens through which God's Divine judgment surges through, a Divine pointed finger, seeking out infractions and shortcomings to punish them with needle-sharp jabs of psychic pain.

Something like Zeus here at 15:12 (l'havdil):

It's just the way it is every year at this time.

So we're not surprised when friends lash out at us for no reason and when all manner of snafus occur, messing with our daily lives until we're ready to snap.

The only way to deal with it, to get through the Three Weeks with one's sanity intact, is to flood the world with positive acts; acts of kindness, acts of greatness, acts of unconditional love.

This week, things were hard. Several people lashed out at me with terrible and uncalled for hostility. 

Let me tell you: I suffered.

But I didn't suffer alone. I put it out there and the good people, the ones who understand that we need to be extra gentle this time of year, reached out to me. Each time someone said a kind word or did something nice for me, it felt healing. It felt like they were repairing that breach in the walls of Jerusalem, that rent in the Heavens.

Ricky answered my request for a ride to the protest at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. The protest was against the planned demolitions of Jewish homes in Beit El. It was good to do something for my people and my nation. I met bad with good. I showed up to be counted with those who care. I waved a sign and nodded thank you to those who drove by and honked their support.

Ricky and I get each other. It felt important. It WAS important. More important than the nasty few people who targeted me this week.

It was an antidote.

And while I was there, my neighbor Jocelyn, from across the street messaged me to come do yoga with her the next day (this morning). When Jocelyn spends time with you, it's like the sun breaking through the clouds in the morning. I had that to look forward to last night even as more nasty people came at me online to cast their nets of vitriol and poison upon me.

And I also reached out to the people who care about me on Facebook and my friend Lisa made me this image to remind me that I am strong and can get through anything. I made it my profile picture.

I LOVE this picture. And I love Lisa for taking the time to make that for me, just to cheer me up. To show she cares.

There's more. There's Leora, who checks in on me to make sure I'm okay. Always staunch. Always on my side. I can say anything to her. 

And Toby, who reminded me what I needed to remember: that when people hurt you, it's YOU who miscalculated. They didn't betray you. They just never were who you thought they were.

They were only being themselves.

And Michael who finally wrote and asked, "What the heck is going on?" and listened to me vent and reminded me I'm not the only one with tzuris (trouble) and used a phrase I've been repeating to myself on and off all day long: "Try not to own other peoples' bad behavior."

And this morning, I finally made it over to Myrna who has lost a lot of weight and looks fabulous. She has beautiful clothes that are now too big for her, and she knows I will appreciate them. As she ushered me in, she saw something in my face and I told her about the nastiness of some people and the kindness of others, how the Three Weeks were turning out to be especially difficult this year.

She knew what I meant. How, when people are mean, there's that pain that lodges in the chest and won't budge. Myrna told me something Rav Avraham Twersky said. That low self-esteem is like a sunburn. When you have a sunburn, you can't stand the merest touch on your skin. But when your skin is healthy, even a little patsch* won't hurt.

Yes. That made sense to me. I know it's not normal that I can't shrug things off like most people. The problem was with ME. I have a big ole sunburn.

As Myrna left me in her bedroom to try on her beautiful cast-offs it occurred to me that it had been one year since we'd met, seated next to each other as we were on the bus ride home from a rally in Tel Aviv for our three boys, Eyal, Gil-Ad, and Naftali. Only the next day did we find they had been brutally murdered by terrorists on their way home from school. But the two weeks leading up to that discovery was a time of tremendous unity among our people.

And now? On this day?

What Myrna did, offering me those clothes, the meaningful words of advice, offering me KINDNESS. It was an echo of that time.

It was healing. Comforting. It made me feel that yes: Our nation will be whole, will heal, will prevail and rebuild.

Dov picked me up to bring me home and as we pulled up to the house, our neighbor Rachel passed by with a plate of brownies supported by a magazine. She asked how I was and I gave the perfunctory answer that I was good, Baruch Hashem, but I wasn't fooling her. She said, "It doesn't look like everything's okay, from the way your face looked when you said that."

So I told her. How people were being mean and nasty. How I was fighting to not let it crush me. How I went to the protest last night and how it helped. She said, "You know what I'm doing?" and I looked at the plate of brownies and the magazine.

"Thursday is my only day off and I'm so happy. Because my friend had a hernia operation and since it's my day off, I can bring her these things and visit her."

"You're doing something," I said. "Something good."

"Exactly," she said. "It's what we're supposed to do. Especially during the Three Weeks. I waited all week to do this."

And she hugged me with one arm—she wasn't going to let go of that plate of brownies with the Redbook supporting it from below. Because especially now? During the Three Weeks?

You gotta hang on to your mitzvahs.

*Yiddish: Slap

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