“Sadness is a wall between two gardens.” Kahlil Gibran
One of my sisters left a copy of Gibran’s “The Prophet” on the living room couch. Gibran was popular in the sixties, but, protected as I was within the walls of my home and Yeshiva, I had no idea what the book was about. I loved reading bible, and assumed it was a book about one of the biblical prophets. It wasn’t. It did, however, make me think.
I was too young to understand most of the book, but I was taken by the quote above. As usual, I waited up for my answering machine, my father zt”l, to come home to discuss the earth shattering questions on my mind: “Pa,” I said, “my sadness over moving from Baltimore to Toronto is a wall between two gardens.”
“So, smash it down!”
“With a hug.”
“Once you knew that a wall was there, you could break it,” he explained.
The Three Weeks culminating in Tisha B’Av consistently help me get the walls of sadness that separate me from God into focus. I can now use the Seven Weeks of Consolation to smash them.
The Seven Weeks only work if we have brought the walls of sadness into focus. As long as the walls are invisible, hidden by our refusal to acknowledge them, we cannot begin to demolish them. We are uncomfortable admitting that there is sadness in our relationship with God. We speak the phrase, “All for the best,” but the hurt lies hidden in our hearts. We may declare our belief that God is Perfect Good, but our frustrations separate us from Him. I speak with many people who are clearly angry with God, but insist that they are not. I observe them carrying their walls around with them, but they, sweating under their heavy load, out of breath from their exertion, deny the walls existence.
We can’t smash walls we deny. The Seven Weeks are a complex process of acknowledgment, confrontation and discussion. Perhaps we should rename them the Seven Weeks of Wall Demolition.
The experience of being able to access the garden unimpeded is thrilling, and the perfect way to enter Rosh Hashana.
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