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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Tisha b’Av 5770

Today we mourned the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the first and second time, that happened on the ninth (tisha) of the month of Av. It is a day for sitting low to the ground, mourning, fasting, and reading the book of Lamentations.

And I ask myself: how can one mourn for what one has never experienced? It is the yearning in the heart, the stretching for more, the belief that, as good as things are, they can always be better, that drives one to honor the past, while feeling our way out into the future.

So many monumental turning points have happened over the last 100 to 150 years of Israel’s modern-day history, even though the country has only existed as a modern nation for the last 62 years. What an example of living our lives in de facto fashion preparing for what we know in our hearts will soon come to pass, because if we waited for de jure declarations, we would have missed many opportunities. Eliezer ben Yehuda began reviving the Jewish language long before Statehood–if a dead language could come back to life again, what are the other possibilities?

It is this juxtaposition, this jostling of mourning over what was, and merriment for what is, and what will be, that gives us hope. The Israeli national anthem, penned in 1878 as a nine-stanza poem by the Galician Jewish poet Naphtali Herz Imber, came to be called, “HaTikvah”, the hope. This was long before the United Nations’ partition plan for Israel in 1947. There were visionaries who saw into the future and pulled that reality into the present with the force of faith.

Not until 1967, during the Six Day War, was the Temple Mount again within Jewish hands. As the Israeli paratroopers took the land, they broadcast the news over crackling radio, “Har haBayit b’yadeinu!”  (The Temple Mount is under our control!).

So why do we still mourn, when there is so much for which to rejoice? There is the understanding that pain often precedes the ushering in of something good. Not that it’s necessary, but life often happens in cycles, whether in terms of war, economics, joy or sadness.

I believe that it’s time for joy. We can look to the past and gain strength. There exists a foundation of others who have gone before us and, against incredible odds, have prevailed. Who are we to shrink back, to think of ourselves as less than, or unable to rise to the challenges of the day? Our forefathers were ordinary people who took extraordinary steps.

Today we consider the Temple and the Presence of God, and though enemies may have destroyed His dwellingplace, whether crafted of stone and precious jewels, or crafted of flesh and blood, He is greater than any limits. He walks through closed doors to cities, to situations, to sensibilities.

While we mourn the destruction of the Temple, we simultaneously celebrate that He yet lives. From Jerusalem, to Baghdad, to Moscow, to Beijing, He is only a prayer away, a very present help in trouble. May He turn your mourning into joy.

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