Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Nine Daze

I always feel so listless and unmotivated during the nine days. Partly it's the lack of meat, coupled with my sullen, boneheaded refusal to eat enough of other types of protein to make up for this deficiency in my usual carnivorous diet. Partly, it's the custom/superstition against beginning any new initiatives during this period of semi-mourning. Whatever the cause, my general mood is definitely altered during this time.

I wish I could say that the sadness was my yiddeshe neshama sincerely crying out for the lost beis hamikdash. But I find it hard to emotionalize that sense of loss the way I know I should. On an intellectual and religious level, I do believe that the mashiach will come one day. And maintaining even this cerebral level of faith in the face of all the tragedies, individual and communal, that we have suffered, can be a great challenge. Among my uncle's starkest of statements, he has been quoted as saying that if the mashiach was really coming in our time, he would have come to Auschwitz.

Last year, among other timely issues, I pondered whether, if one mourns at this time, but for a personal grief rather than for Zion and Jerusalem, does the mourning "count"? A similar question can be asked about observing the customs of the nine days with a purely ritual focus, but without one's heart being in it. Can we say "mitoch lo lishma, ba lishma" - that by starting out doing the right actions for the wrong motives, you will come to do them with the right motives? Or does going through the motions of mourning, as I fear so many of us do at this time, become an end-state, a goal in and of itself?

A somber question for a somber time. May God elevate and sactify our sadness, and then remove its reason for being.


At 7/28/06, 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you mourn for a personal grief, it is still grief. If it is grief (better if it's not, of course) and not something light or inconvenient like missing a train, etc. In a sense, whether it is personal or national, whether it is African or Jewish (or Arab, for that matter), it is all about the same thing, it is all because, starting with Adam ha-Rishon the world and the people have not always done the right thing.

At 7/31/06, 2:39 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Good questions.

At 7/31/06, 10:09 AM, Blogger Lakewood Venter said...

I think that mourning personal grief definitely counts!

At 8/1/06, 12:37 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I hope mourning personal grief counts that would be great. Nice post. Feel good.

At 8/2/06, 1:36 PM, Blogger ALG said...

I don't think it's possible to engage in communal mourning unless you've engaged in personal mourning at some point in your life. Loss on that magnitude starts with the loss of one human life. And it only means something because of the loss of all of those lives. If focusing on the loss of the lives of people you know is how you understand the more historic losses that we have suffered, more power to you. It's certainly better than sitting on the floor and not feeling loss at all, which is what I did before I lost anyone close to me.


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