A friend recently renovated her home – well, more like tore it down and built new on the same slab. The house needed it and she wanted it to happen. The house was cold and damp, it was dated, and it was just too small for a family of five. However, on the day the bulldozer arrived, I found her in the street with tears on her cheeks. “There’s so many memories inside those walls. Maybe I shouldn’t tear it all down and keep just a little to commemorate how we began.” Then the bulldozer brought its massive blade down on the wall of the house. She smiled, shrugged and said, “It’s for the best.”
Throughout our lives it is a series of beginnings and endings, this is the way it has always been. On the Jewish calendar we are in a period called “The Three Weeks”. In the midst of the sunshine and enjoyment of summer, it is a time of great mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem and the exile of Jews from Israel.
With this mourning brings a set of restrictions. We abstain from listening to music, holding weddings and buying new clothes. We avoid things that will make us happy, so that we can truly absorb and integrate the loss of the Temple into our modern-day psyche.
Though we are taught to mourn the Temples’ destruction, we are also taught that the destruction of the Temple should be seen as something that was essential to happen. Its destruction allows for something even greater to come in its place, a truer and more beautiful reality.
For many when things change or something is lost, it can define their reality. They focus on the loss, on the grief until it becomes all consuming. This can be true from the smallest slight to the biggest life loss.
This can be said for our faith as well. When there is a lapse or doubt of faith, it can be tragic for the person having it. However, sometimes it as well must be torn down to be rebuilt even stronger. We will remember that God is always present. When we seek Him through our losses, we always rebuild stronger and greater.
We are taught that the destruction of the Temple, while tragic, is just a transient event. The Temple is eternal, it is expressed in the thoughts, deeds and actions of each one of God’s faithful. It is constantly and continuously being built on a spiritual level.
As we deal with the changes and endings in our lives, we should not just put aside what was. It is important to remember and it is even important to feel pangs of sadness for what was. However, we should also feel ok with the destruction because it helps us make way for building an even greater future.
My friend did not cry again after the bulldozer knocked down her old house. From the rubble a beautiful new home was built and on the wall just inside is a lovely photo of the old house, to commemorate where they began.
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.
SOMETHING FUN TO KNOW!
The Origins of the phrase "In Dire Straits"
In Hebrew “The Three Weeks” is also referred to as Bein ha-Metzarim (בין המצרים), or “Between the Straits” or “In Dire Straits”. It is based onLamentations 1:3: "Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.” Thus, when you next hear someome refer to being “in dire straits” you’ll know it comes from the exile of Jews from Israel.