Summer heat is on. Beyn Hamaytzarim; between the tight and narrow places refers to the days between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av. It is important because it marks the time of the capture of Yerushalayim which culminated with the destruction of the Beyt Hamikdash; Holy Temple. It marks the end of Judaism’s first era – when Temple sacrifices served as the dominant vehicle to the Divine.
Tisha b’Av is honored by tradition through reading the book of Lamentations and fasting. Loss is commemorated by mourning and random behavior. Some turn their furniture upside down deconstructing the space they live in. Others wait till later in the day to lay t’fillin. Some sit and quake until the day is over. All bets are off. This reflects the randomness and uncertainty experienced by destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the resulting ramifications to the Jewish community at that time. Every year at this time, we have a chance to meet this klipah (tough shell that hides light) and find the Divine Spark in it for us.
Hassidic traditions see this deconstruction as creating space. Big space, enough space for The Divine Presence to permeate all of creation. (Moshiah). Just like a rubber band pulled back really far, when released, has great potency and power to move forward, so too the destruction and perceived distance from the Divine propels a move toward unity and integration. The distance invokes yearning.
Imagine Divine Presence on Earth. What it would be like for us all to get along, love one another and wish each other well. A world where “May God Bless everyone, no exceptions” be held as a dominant kavvanah.
When we imagine this reality, we can begin to feel it. When we feel it, it begins to trickle in and change can begin. A path is started. (To manifest this change need be cared for and nourished.)
Similarly, The Ari z”l taught that before creation, came tzim tzum; the creation of space. Only after the space was created could creation manifest within it.
This is a true practice in many mystical traditions. At the beginning, with a process is moving forward in a given direction and following a path. Only after this process is deconstructed, either through choice or circumstance and can an enhanced reconstruction take place. Construction is preceded by deconstruction.
Beyn Hamaytzarim marks the annual deconstruction that precedes the Elul Tshuvah period. It is a call for Hakhna-ah – submission/capitulation. We are not in charge. What does Hashem want it to be?
Just as Temple Judaism transformed into Rabbinical Judaism, an opportunity exists during this to release losses or patterns and reintegrate that which is life sustaining and available.
NEXT ON THE CALENDAR CYCLE
Next Tuesday night; Aug 4, 2009
The Full moon of Tu b’Av brings a potent energy shift. The potential of a new reality is seeded. Tu b’Av is a Jewish Valentine’s or Sadie Hawkins’ day. According to tradition, on this unique day the tribes were allowed to intermarry. The edges that separate blur. Courtship manifested in circles of maidens wearing white dancing in vineyards giving glances to potential suitors. The month of Av transforms into a time of courtship, joy and comfort.
Every year I anticipate this day with joy and anticipation. It is a direct entry way back into the arms of the Beloved.
MOVING TO ELUL AND THE HIGH HOLY DAYS
Counting forward forty days brings us to the 25th day of Elul. Since Rosh Hashanah is the day humans were created, counting back we find that this day is “day one” of creation. Forty is a number associated with transformation. The gestation, as it were, of transformation and Tshuvah begin at this time. Tshuvah cycle is birthed on this day. By the time Elul arrives Tshuvah; return time is ripe and ready to transform.
It is a beginning of Tshuvah and preparing for the judgement of the high Holy days. The Shabbat following Tisha b’Av is called the Shabbat of comfort Shabbat nahamu. Av them melts into Elul; Virgo. Elul calls for T’shuva; return. T’shuvah prepares us for the days of awe coming in Tishray – libra’s scales.
An opportunity for transformation each and every year exists. The process is beginning right now quietly and with subtlety. It is time to start asking, “How will I change this next year.”