Morning Blessings For the Nine Days & Tisha B’Av: Part Four
“Who gives sight to the blind.” For us, — whatever’s undergone,
Thou knowest, willest what is done,
Grief may be joy misunderstood;
Only the Good discerns the good.
I trust Thee while my days go on.
(Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
The darkness of exile is often compared to blindness. However, we continue to rely on God, “Who knows, Who Wills what is done,” Who, “discerns the good.” We thank God for the gift of Bitachon, trusting in, and relying on His vision.
“Who clothes the naked.”
“Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful. They were the mixed result of a young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it.”
“But we insignificant people with our daily words and acts are preparing the lives of many Dorotheas.”
“Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs (George Eliot; from the epilogue to Middlemarch)
We thank God for the Mitzvot that allow and empower us to have a diffusive effect of goodness on the world. We acknowledge that our souls are dressed in many unhistoric acts that may remain hidden to the world, but are our garments before God.
“Who releases the bound.”
It is over. What is over?
Nay, how much is over truly!—
Harvest days we toiled to sow for;
Now the sheaves are gathered newly,
Now the wheat is garnered duly.
It is finished. What is finished?
Much is finished known or unknown:
Lives are finished; time diminished;
Was the fallow field left unsown?
Will these buds be always unblown?
It suffices. What suffices?
All suffices reckoned rightly:
Spring shall bloom where now the ice is,
Roses make the bramble sightly,
And the quickening sun shine brightly,
And the latter wind blow lightly,
And my garden teem with spices.
(Christina Rossetti; Amen)
“All suffices reckoned rightly.” We are able to break the bonds of our exile when we understand that we have been empowered to create eternal realities with our Mitzvot, prayer, and Torah study.
“Who straightens the bent.”
Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere:
“Ah! my Lord Arthur, whither shall I go?
Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?
For now I see the true old times are dead,
When every morning brought a noble chance,
And every chance brought out a noble knight.
Such times have been not since the light that led
The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh.
But now the whole Round Table is dissolved
Which was an image of the mighty world,
And I, the last, go forth companionless,
And the days darken round me, and the years,
Among new men, strange faces, other minds.”
And slowly answered Arthur from the barge:
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou seëst–if indeed I go
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)–
To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns
And bowery hollows crowned with summer sea,
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound.”
(Alfred, Lord Tennyson; “The Passing of Arthur”)
We have the opportunity to straighten the sin of baseless hatred that led to the destruction of the Second Temple by raising ourselves up from the bent position of sheep and goats, and lifting our hands in prayer for others.