11 Av, 5775
I was reading my post for last year’s Tisha B’av. Gosh, was I ever smart! This year, I don’t feel as smart. I didn’t have as many dreams, as many temples in the air this time, so there were less to be shattered by the walls coming down. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I still get expectations in my head, God still finds most of them funny, and I still have a lot to let go of on Tisha B’Av. Still, this year, I have less of them. Today I feel like the its worth exploring what happens after – after the shiva guests leave, after the rabbis have rent their clothes, after the fighting has been over so long that the stories are legends, not memories.
The plants – the hopes, the dreams, – seem well and truly dead. The tragedy has happened, and we’ve accepted that the temple is destroyed, and even found a way to live without it. It’s done now. So, now what? Why remember that broken-ness? Why dig up those pieces of dead dreams – of things I no longer want or hope for? I’m not building another temple. The constant repetition of, ‘someday, the messiah will come and a new temple just like the old one will be built’ is not my style. “I’ll live with smaller simpler relationships with people and with God, those with less sacrifice, less drama,” I think.
Maybe I don’t need Tisha B’Av anymore? If it’s just a day to be sad on – there are some opportunities for that. Not many, and it’s good to have a day set aside for that, but still – is that enough of a reason to bring up the past? Maybe it’s a day to remember the things that brought the temple down – baseless hatred, the disconnection between people, and to fight against that? Again good, but oddly not enough for me this year. Maybe it’s a stern message from God to avoid building again – that Temples fall. I picture this…
And reject it. That is not my faith. That is not my God. My God says that faith IS, that love IS, that dreams are possible and real and necessary. My eye is caught not by the horror of the ancients’ loss, but by the beauty and grandeur of what they had before they lost it. I realize once again, reminded by the sheer depth of the horror that this is the world I want – one where you have so much, so very much love and hope and intimacy that its loss is a deep shattering.
I realize that I want to live in a world with grand temples and castles in the air, where the impossible is mine for the taking. I won’t be content with mediocrity. It won’t ever be the same – I know the old temple is gone and destroyed, and frankly, I don’t want another one just like it. I don’t need random sacrifices, strange hierarchies, civil wars and frozen traditions. I do, however, need the beauty. I need sweeping ballrooms and purple and crimson threads and gold and silver and copper, the intimacy so deep that it’s as if God lives here. They are a part of who I am. I will live with the crashes, though they will be emotionally horrifying.
So, I re-embrace my fairy-tales. I say yes to dreams to possibilities of wonder and magic and love and courage in my life. I turn the grieving of Tisha B’Av into inspiration, a push to hope and dream and work. The old temple is destroyed. I’ve even found a way to live reasonably decently without it. Now, I slowly gather my courage, and in the depths of my imagination, carefully and slowly and hesitantly, I begin building anew.