Personal Thoughts for Tisha B’Av, 5763

Each year our people fast and mourn. We turn inside to remember the destruction of the two Holy Temples in Jerusalem, along with any number of other national disasters. We dream of and plead for our full return to Jerusalem, the ultimate building of the Third Temple, one described as being a worship place for all nations. We dream of the ultimate renewal and integration of the world, a messianic age of peace and reward and we fret at how far we seem from that ideal.

Perhaps it takes direct experience to open our eyes to what should have been clear and obvious. Our own lives continuously present us with the next and most appropriate and rewarding challenge for our journey. Good times, bad times are all opportunities if only we can see them.

The Temple, and the Tabernacle before it, served as a meeting place for the Infinite and the finite, for mankind and God. Not that one can localize or restrict the Divine to one or any physical location, but perhaps this space on earth most facilitates the approach of Man. We speak of it as a dwelling place for the Shechina, the feminine Divine presence. With the destruction of the Temples and the exile from the Holy Land, we speak of the Exile of the Shechina, the inavailability of the feminine.

And with the inavailability of the feminine, the Tree of Life lacks Malchut with which to join and to power this world; thus to be able via our efforts, finish our role as Creation Partners with the Creator. And without this primal connection, things fall apart.

The world shatters from the top down. The Inspiration of Chochma cannot undergos the analysis of Bina to become useful knowledge, Da’at. Chesed cannont join with Gevurah to becomeTiferet, nor can Neztach and Hod partner to create Yesod. We are unable to join all the energies of Creation. We fall short in our goal and find ourselves alienated, discouraged and wondering why to go on……

The answer our tradition has given us is to fast, to mortify our souls, to refrain from the holy intercourse with our lovers, symbolic of the curse and not the cure. I find this so curious, so pointed, so eloquent.

In a year of personal separation I experience this disconnect in the gut, not merely in the mind. The challenge is to continue to build and maintain a Temple, a dwelling for the Shechina, longingly awating Her return.

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