Yellow. What mood does it evoke in you? Sunshine. Brightness. Happiness.
How about black? Darkness. Mourning. Despair. Constriction.
Do you have a favorite painting or portrait? Examine it closely. What do you like about it? Is it colorful? Vibrant? Realistic? Does it make you happy?
Look carefully at its colors. While it may have many hues, no doubt it has a good amount of black. The black is evident in its outline, in its shadows, in the blending of the colors and in making the brighter parts really stand out. It’s not only that the black serves as a backdrop for the lighter tones, but that, ironically, black illuminates and enhances the effects of all the other colors.
Unfortunately, life is like that too. We have sunny days where we feel at peace with our inner selves and aligned with our mission in this world. And then we have cloudy, gloomy and dark days in which we are out of sync. These are the times in our lives that are painful, full of unused potential, when we feel disconnected from our spiritual selves and our Maker.
Yet, often it is precisely in the blackness and difficulties of our lives that our fortitude, faith and strength as human beings emerge. Those circumstances highlight the beautiful hidden vibrancy of our inner souls and bring out their luminosity.
Just as anxiety is meant to agitate us into action, darkness too must be used as a springboard for further growth, to acquire a deeper sensitivity. There is a chassidic saying that nothing is as whole as a broken heart—as long as our grief is constructive, creating turmoil that brings us to action.
We are currently in the darkest period of the Jewish calendar, culminating with the 9th of Av, which marks the destruction of the first and second Temples.
But Jewish history is anything but tragic. It is a tale of hope, faith and optimism, of strength, morality and light triumphing despite the harshest circumstances. Centuries of exile have wrenched the Jewish soul through the most miserable darkness, but through it all we have triumphed in still being here, still searching for goodness and G‑dliness, still holding on to our deepest convictions and still striving to reach our highest potentials.
Over the last many weeks we have witnessed collective tragedy. The kidnapping of our boys united us all in sorrow and grief, as did the rockets that rained down upon our cities. But the emerging messages of each of these horrors demonstrated once again the amazing fortitude of the Jewish soul.
Moshiach is born on the ninth of Av. Together let us all beseech our Maker that the living “portrait” of our people has been painted with enough blackness to bring out our inherent beauty. It is now time to experience the sunny brightness of the other, happier hues.
It is time for us to experience “G‑d will wipe away the tears from every eye.” Forever.