Flames. We are marched from our homes, still in our Shabbat clothing. Stupefied, not yet aware that this is real, we gather in the shul
How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How she is become like a widow!
Crying, not greeting one another, we slink to our homes to not eat, not drink, not be entertained, not laugh, not make love
Not just destruction of a building, but of an ideal
We have built our own jail with angry hands, raised as fists against one another
Because we still speak ill of one another
Because we still cheat one another
We look for hurt caused against us by a brother or a sister to justify our rage
We cause each other to fear saying anything, lest it be judged negatively
We burn our shuls down with chatter between the pages, during the prayers, over the words
And we justify and rationalize everything:
“I don’t want to speak lashon hora, but…”
“Sheltering money is an investment. It’s not actually theft. It’s my money, after all!”
Once sensitive to the plight of the downtrodden, we hurry past the beggar without as much as a smile of apology.
We destroy our own Holy Temple again. And again. And again. Year after year. Word after word. Deed after deed undone.
We are wrung out, sad beyond words, beyond tears. Our contumely, our culpability in the destruction of others and of ourselves, disgusts us at last. We are ready for the chair.
So tired. Hungry. Thirsty. Contrite.
Finally, we feel what we have lost.
A sliver of silvery light seeps sweetly into our souls…
We begin to yearn
And the yearning repairs us
Repairs the rent fabric of the universe
Slowly, slowly, we remember
Ancient history, when 600,000 people packed into a holy space
Not one complaining –
That there is not enough space for ME, for MY worship, for MY experience.
It was all about each other.
May it once again, today and forever, be about each other.
Together, we will rebuild, with these freshly-washed hands.
RE – 10 Av 5778.