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Insights

Thoughts and Reflections

The "Three Weeks" are designated as a time of mourning over the destruction of the Holy Temple and the galut (exile).

Finding the Love in the Destruction
Despite their connection with energies of destruction, these three weeks are, on a deeper level, permeated with powerfully positive spiritual influences as well.
The Temple Guards and Their Mystical Meaning
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak devotes 25 pages of dense Kabbalistic text to explaining this discrepancy through the lens of Jewish mysticism.
Celebrating Destruction
Despite the obvious rawness of the environment, I could not help but think about the potential this apartment had.
Between the Narrow Straits
The other night it hit me—there is a difference between pain and anguish.
Rebuilding the Temple with Love
Talk about Jewish guilt. It is said that if we don’t witness the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in our lifetime, it’s as if we witness its destruction. If that’s not difficult enough, the key to rebuilding is simple to articulate but challenging to do: to love another Jew for no reason whatsoever.
Who's Your Daddy?
Why is the sad month of Av named “Father”?
Friends are there for empathy and absolute acceptance. Parents are supposed to provide direction. A family is not a democracy; if anything, it’s more like a benevolent dictatorship.
The Pinch
The narrow strait is not a roadblock; on the contrary, it is a mechanism for increased productivity. Hydraulic power plants, rockets and garden hoses employ it...
Why We Mourn
Why the obsession over an ancient Jerusalemite structure? Does the lack of a Holy Temple leave any of us feeling a gaping hole in our lives?
Good Grief
Is Sad Bad?
"There is nothing as whole as a broken heart" goes one chassidic saying. "Depression is not a sin; but what depression does, no sin can do" declaims another.
The Subterranean Temple
Had the Temple not been initially constructed with the knowledge of, and the provision for, what was to happen on the ninth of Av, no mortal could have moved a single stone from its place.
Tammuz—Time for Transformation
Without a doubt, we have experienced tremendous hardship and pain throughout our history—more so, perhaps, than other nations. But Jewish history is anything but tragic . . .
Regret
If G‑d regrets the creation of galut (exile) every day, why are we still in exile? How could galut exist, even as a concept, without G‑d’s continued desire that it be?
The Unintentional Intentional Sin
A sin can only be rectified if the guilty person recognizes his guilt. We suffer most from our "unknown" mistakes.
When (and How) to be Sad
If joy is the revelation and expansion of the soul, then sorrow is a soul’s concealment and contraction. In sorrow the soul retreats, silencing all outward expression, shriveling to its narrowest sliver of selfhood . . .
Twelve Sticks
The stick, it can be said, is a piece of tree that has paid the price of leaving home. The stick, it can also be said, is one who has reaped the rewards of leaving home . . .
Cholent
“Why have they stopped crying?” wondered the villager. “Are they no longer hungry?” Then he remembered the cholent . . .
Searching for G-d
Can “hide and seek” work if the seeker stops searching?
Can a Jew be faulted for failing to constantly search for his Father and yearning for the Redemption? Whose fault is it after all?
Squeezed
What happens when all the pain and torment, all the sins and sorrows of a 4,000-year-old people are squeezed into a space of three weeks?
Breaking Walls
The Kabbalah of the Three Weeks: a buried seed of goodness, a 21-day almond wood, walls that protect and walls that imprison, the pregnant Tet, and a cosmic birth that puts history to rights.
The Great Squeeze
What do a garden hose nuzzle, a rocket, a hydraulic power plant, a shofar, and this article have in common? They all operate on the Pinch Principle
Two Kinds of Good
Lessons for the Month of Tammuz
The “vessel” of life is too small right now to receive and perceive this new increment of good (and G-d). It must stretch beyond itself to accommodate the new light which is forcing its way in.
A Debt of Truth
Musings on Tisha B'Av
What remains of the destroyed Temple to be held as "collateral"? What is the debt whose payment will trigger the Temple's return to us?
I Don't Have a Dream
What do we do when a bad dream becomes too horrible to bear? We make ourselves wake up, and all the impossible predicaments and disturbing contradictions disappear as if they never were.
Are We Really Independent?
We have our own state; so why do we still mourn our exile on Tishah B'Av?
Memory
Jews never had history. We have memory. History can become a book, a museum, and forgotten antiquities. Memory is alive. And memory guarantees our future
Can We Still Be in Love?
Jewish history is comprised of two segments: pre and post Temple destruction. The first era is marked by miracles and constant divine intervention; the second by suffering and Divine concealment.
Looking Forward
After we grieve or cry we leave the world of sorrow and move into the world of action, doing whatever possible to create a better tomorrow.
A Tisha b'Av Prank
They opened a skylight in the study hall and dropped a snare; when someone walked into the study hall, they would yank on the rope so that the snare fastened itself around him, and pull him up to the roof...
Temporary Setback
Though I tried to summon some platitudes of comfort, he was having nothing of it. "I started off with nothing," he declared, "G‑d blessed me till now, and this is just a temporary setback..."
Consolation
When you’re feeling sad, do you go to your father or to your mother? Is it transcendence that you seek, or the solacing embrace that assures us that nothing is meaningless, that everything we are and feel can be borne, inhabited and redeemed?
The Legalities of Destruction
According to a law set forth in our Parshah, G-d's destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was not just a tragic event -- it also may have been illegal...
Unwarranted Love
Do good. Don’t wait for others to start. Be an initiator, the others will respond. It’s impossible that they won’t. Some will react sooner; for others, the process will take more time. Ultimately, the heart opens to the heart.
Making the Temple a Reality
Despite its tragic associations, this period is characterized by strong positive spiritual influences. On the temporal plane, this is reflected in the fact that the period of Bein HaMetzarim falls in the summer...
Seven Degrees of Consolation
If galut is a time of estrangement between G-d and Israel, why were the two keruvim embracing at the time of the Temple’s destruction? Wouldn’t the destruction of the Holy Temple mark a nadir in our relationship with the Almighty?
The Palace and the Pigeons
The precious jewels had been scattered to the farthest reaches of the globe. How would the king recover that which was most dear to him?
Stones with a Soul
The Western Wall--Where the Soul is Always Whole
The Western Wall is a place of national nostalgia, a focal point for our collective pining over a lost glory. It is the symbol of our hopes for the future. But it’s also a symbol of what still exists...
A Season of Perfect Faith
One whispers, G‑d’s voice audible from within the cherub’s wings. His words silence the howl of the storm. I Am with you now more than ever before. You are my only; never shall we part.
The Three Eichas and the Rebbe’s Example
Three Jewish prophets opened their hearts to their beloved nation using this mysterious word: Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.
Lonely in a Crowd
The girl behind the counter asked, “How are you today?” but you know that she didn’t really want an answer.
Mommy Come Home
It's the first time I’ve left home, left my children, for a week-long course that will give me a tremendous amount of skills and tools to use in my practice.
The Tunnels That Rebuilt Jerusalem
A Story of Oneness By Dispersion
Exile and dispersion produced a miracle. It brought out an organic, irreducible oneness of our people that could not otherwise be imagined.
When Things Don't Work Out, No Matter How Hard You Try
We feel stuck and frustrated. Why isn’t G‑d answering us?
Why Make a Siyum During the Nine Days?
Isn’t this counterintuitive? Shouldn’t we be sad during this time, not seeking out different ways to celebrate and rejoice?
When My Child Began Hitting . . .
We have a Father, and He loves us and adores us. He wants to give to us and shower us with blessing and goodness. But He does ask for something in return, and it’s for our own benefit: to be kind and respect one another.
Making G-d Known Will Bring Moshiach
So this physical world, the lowest realm, is G-d's goal; His purpose can only be realized here.
Getting in the Last Laugh With G‑d
Yes, loss of loved ones is going to happen, but why in such traumatic ways?
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