Dear Readers,

Right now, I’m surrounded by boxes and feel like I could almost drown in them. My house looks like a disaster zone. Chairs and tables are lined up against the walls. My pretty decorative elements, the beautiful wall art and photographs of my loved ones, are long gone, packed away. Nothing is in its right place.

With just a short time until our move, our home is in total disarray, as we pack up the last several years of our lives into cardboard boxes. Our new home, while beautiful, is still unadorned. Its rooms await our furniture and tchatchkas--our touches, small and big, to transform it from an impersonal house into our home.

And so, right now, I feel like I am displaced. Living in a home that soon will no longer be mine, it already feels like it is not mine. And as I visit my bare new home, it, too, does not yet feel like home.

Though I am really excited about our move and feel so fortunate for the opportunities that await us in a wonderful new community, this temporary feeling of displacement can be jarring and disorienting.

Our nation understands this feeling of displacement. Exile is displacement, and we have experienced it for almost two thousand years!

To be displaced means to be shifted from where you belong, from where you should be, from where you are used to being, to a no-man’s land. It means feeling uprooted and disjointed. You live in a paradoxical situation where you are not here, nor there.

There have been times when exile meant terrible persecutions, wars and destructions. But sometimes, exile is more subtle; it means finding ourselves in a world where we are currently staying—where we may even have a roof over our heads and walls that protect us, even physical comforts and luxuries—but where we don’t really feel at home.

G‑dliness is hidden and our souls seek and yearn more cohesiveness, more spiritual connections. The result is suffering, fragmentation, challenges and confusion.

We have just begun the Three Weeks, an annual period of mourning that marks the destruction of our Temples and our ongoing exile.

A positive aspect of displacement is that the feeling is so uncomfortable that it provides the impetus to motivate us to create a more settling environment. The darkest exile, on the other hand, is when we don’t even recognize that we are in exile. Like a sickness that one doesn’t realize is wracking one’s body, nothing motivates you to create change and find healing.

And so, the Three Weeks period is a time for us to focus on exile—and how we each can contribute to its end. It is a time to figure out how each of us can add a little more G‑dliness to our world, to transform it into a comfortable, G‑dly home.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW