SARA SCHENIRER: A First-Class Option

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THE THREE WEEKS – FROM TEARS TO TRANSFORMATION, FROM BITTER TO SWEET





Do you dread the three weeks, the 21 days between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av?  I recently discovered that there are many positive things to focus on during this time period.

As a people who believe in the coming of Mashiah, and that everything comes from Hashem and is good, we can take a glass half-full approach and view the three weeks as an opportunity for transformation.

You are probably thinking, “What’s good about all the tragediesthat occurred during that time - pain, destruction, and exile?”

Focusing on the Positive

Viewing the glass as half-full (with a positive and optimistic filter) versus half-empty is a concept that is found in the Talmud and has been taught by our spiritual leaders for centuries.  Positive people are generally healthier and happier.

We can see a glass half-full approach in the Talmud’s language, instructing us to “reduce our joy” during the three weeks rather than increase our sadness, “Mishenichnas Av memaatin besimha - When Av enters, we decrease in joy.”  Why use this choice of words?  The Zohar teaches that the three weeks of mourning are actually the seed for what will become of Tisha B’Av in the future. Ultimately Tisha B’Av will be transformed into a day of joyous celebration. It is the day when the Mashiah will be born.  We therefore can minimize the losses we mourn and the pain we feel by beginning the month of Av with simha, through a positive outlook and a jubilant approach.

As Jews we need to always remember that despite our losses, we are still the chosen people, have the Torah, and have the ability to repent, be forgiven, and be redeemed.  We need to always keep in mind that a Jew should not be sad. A Jew is happy,and it is a great mitzvah to be happy.

The Message of Transformation

On Tisha B’Av we recite the kinot, the liturgical poems about our suffering as a people.  In Rabbi Avraham Galante’s Kol Bochim (The Crying Voice), a Kabbalistic commentary on the Book of Lamentations (1589), he reversed the letters from kinot to tikun (repair), demonstrating that Hashem gives us the ability to turn things around, and to transform darkness into light.

Yirmiyahu, in the prophecy of the almond staff, conveyed Hashem’s message to Israel to surrender to King Nebuchadnezzar and avoid the destruction and murder that would occur if they would not (the enemy will come from the north and the punishment will be swift like the almonds that blossom before the other fruits).  Rabbis have also found a message of redemption in this prophecy.  Almonds blossoming symbolize spring and rebirth. It takes 21 days for almonds to ripen, another connection to the three weeks. There are two kinds of almonds, those that start out bitter and become sweet when they mature, and those that are sweet at the outset and then become bitter.  The almond prophecy can be interpreted in a positive light: Hashem, in a concealed way, is there in the darkness, awaiting blossoming and transformation. Our sins will be transformed to virtues. The tragedies served their purpose and we move on. We will re-experience the pain as Hashem’s love for us. We will repent and earn redemption and experience happy times forever.

As Jews we understand that our struggle and ability to overcome our meitzarim, ourlimitations, be they physical, spiritual, emotional, or financial, are part of the spark that Hashem breathed into us.  May we be zoche to the rebuilding of the third Bet Hamikdash!

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Ellen helps people find their passion, purpose, and positivity in life and relationships. She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com(www.lifecoachellen.com).