Kinah 7-Rendezvous With Time
“And not remember the assembly place You designated for Your followers.” We refer to each of the festivals as a Moed, a Meeting Place In Time. In fact, we even refer to Tisha b’Av as a Moed; we apply certain laws of the Festivals to the time following midday.
However, there is an aspect of this idea of a Meeting Place In Time that is troublesome. The custom is to avoid certain things during this time of the year. Many people avoid surgery if they can, others delay business deals until after Tisha b’Av. Those are not the things that trouble me. When people begin the Three Weeks expecting bad things to happen, or even wondering whether they can pray for a miracle or anything good because the Three Weeks are such a fixed period in time, when only bad things can happen, that bothers me.
It was certainly a tragedy when the Assembly as assembly place God designated for His followers was destroyed, however, perhaps it was a hint that it was now possible for us to designate places on our own. The Sages, immediately following the destruction of the Second Temple, taught us how to transform every place we gather for prayer into a miniature Sanctuary. They took the loss of a single designated place as an opportunity to learn how to create many such designated places.
This takes us back to the original Temple, the Tabernacle in the desert, which did not have a designated place, meaning one specific place in the desert, but where ever it was erected by the people, the building became the place. The building constructed by the people is where we found the Divine Presence. From the introduction of the idea of a designated place we were empowered to create such places.
If we can do it with a place, why can we not do the same with time? Why can we not begin to see this time of year as an opportunity? When did we ever accept limitations placed on our creative powers?
When we begin to treat the Three Weeks as a fixed time for only bad things, we are making the same mistake as the generation that was sentenced to die out in the desert over the course of forty years. That generation made no attempt to change the decree. That generation did not access all their experiences from the bringing of the Paschal Offering to the Splitting of the Sea, from Sinai to constructing the Tabernacle, to realize that every experience had been to empower them to change their reality. They accepted that they would die out in the desert. They made no effort to change the time.
When we approach this time of year as un-changing, we are making the same mistake.
Why would we pray on Tisha b’Av for Redemption, for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, for the destruction of evil, for the Messiah, if we did not believe that it is possible even today for our prayers to bring about the greatest miracles that will transform this from a day of tragedy into a day of infinite celebration?
Yes, it was certainly a tragedy when God did not remember the assembly place He designated for His followers, but it was also a reminder of all that He has empowered us to accomplish.