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A Breach in the Wall

A Breach in the Wall

Musings on the 3 Weeks

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A breach in the walls around Jerusalem.

Descending into frenzied violence,
desolation,
destruction of our inner core, G‑d’s holy house.

“Make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell within you,” G‑d implores, as His home is violated, imploring us— pick up the shards, caress, protect the family heirlooms.

We face Jerusalem to draw down strength, the name that means—complete awe
Awe and a trembling joy
At Your might,
Your magnificent world

As the plane soars, I watch the lazy golden coast, a winding stretch of beach
Azure waves of sparkly infinitude
Back and forth
Roll and return
The V of birds flying, in silent perfect formation
Beneath the jet’s snout
This world of mystery and wonder
A small whisper of Your majesty
But G‑d, dear G‑d, of tzedek v’mishpat, of justice, truth; this world seems more a dung heap of confusion

We long to live in Yirat Shalaim—complete awe—
In wholesome recognition of Your glory
As kohanim, priests clad in white, walk gracefully, meditatively up the Temple steps
to the Gate to Heaven—Sha’arei Shamayim

But it’s breached, broken
Severed
A door hanging in the wind
Raging fire of Auschwitz, flames of hatred, licking laughingly at its rusting finish
Vultures lap the blood of mutilated corpses, mouths twisted in agony
Rotting in the merciless, bleaching, high noon sun
Three short weeks
Twenty-one days of entreating
A descent into the abyss
Till the Temple, the heart
The holy, the vulnerable beating heart is laid waste

How much is your heart worth? these words emblazoned on the hospital I pass
Beckon.

How much is our heart worth? the pulsing heart of G‑d’s light,
pulsing into our world in harmonious rhythm

How weakened we are: clogged arteries, stagnation, incomplete blood flow, irregular pulse;
light, values, goodness, connectedness hemorrhaging,

How to strengthen our Jewish heart—a diet of simple prayer, words of Torah infusing nutrients of soul, of heaven

Seven a.m., Monday morning. I walked into shul where a loyal minyan; family men, graying men, loyally strengthening and protecting that heart, gently kissing the Torah scroll, caress the velvet
wrapping black straps of meaning, tying heaven to heart with leather knots
before heading off into the rush hour fray

A family sits around a Shabbos table. Pulling back, shutting off: power down, no texting, dings unanswered
car silent in the driveway, missing the big sale at the mall, 75% off
to protect the heart, to build a simple resplendent Jewish home, a mikdash m’at,
a little Temple, on their suburban cul de sac.

The Cohen’s and the Rosen’s and the Schwartz’s. Gathered around the hearth, listening to Daddy’s Kiddush, so many little temples lighting up our world,
slowing to a resting pulse,
breathe in, breathe out,
cleansing breath

Each home lovingly,
laboriously, makes their small tikun,
a repair of the breach,
a haven where the harsh wind can’t blow

No, the vultures, the scavengers have no feast, no find
Fire drives away the bears, the wolves
The fire of Shabbos
The fire of Torah
The fire of striving still to connect, with a humble reach upwards, for a sliver of Yirat Shaleim,
of complete awe,
amidst the chaos
Sustaining a life, a pulse, a heartbeat, a heartbeat of G‑d’s light
Flowing into our fractured world
Constructing yet a rebuilt city of Gold.

Miriam Karp is an award-winning writer, artist, Judaic studies teacher and lecturer. Her paintings explore intimate moments in Jewish life. Her first book, Painting Zaidy’s Dream: A Memoir of a Searching Soul, shares her story of search. Miriam lives in Cincinnati with her husband and family. Visit her website here.
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Shifra Alaska July 21, 2015

Glorious! Glorious imagery! Thank you, Miriam, this really speaks to me of what the three weeks and the Jewish people is all about. Inspiring! Reply