During this period in the Jewish calendar, we read some of the most poignant and disturbing words in our canon. We read about the city of Jerusalem weeping as she is abandoned by her people, we read about God, lamenting the fate of our people, and we read words of rebuke, directed at us by the prophets and God, for our behavior. The assault upon us is unrelenting, until we reach Tisha B’Av, the time when we pour out our grief and our pain at the tragedies we have suffered as a people. We mourn and cry for those we have lost, for the holes left in our lives by their absence. We cry for ourselves, for our people and for the suffering of humanity. And then, after our time of lament, we find the words of comfort and hope, words which call us back to life, to return to the world and resume the work of repairing the brokenness.
This year, these words are even more poignant as we look around our world at the moment, it needs healing. It seems that everywhere we turn there is suffering and pain. There seems to be one assault after another on our faith and belief in humanity, in our hope that people are better than what we are seeing in the world. Murder, kidnapping, pain, suffering. Young girls taken because they dared to wish for a better future, a person blowing a plane out of the sky for no reason, war in Israel and Gaza. It seems like something significant is happening at the moment, that the world is being ripped apart. Conflict, war, tragedy, violence leaving in its wake a heaviness and a burden which we feel powerless to shift.
The world needs healing and so do we. We sit here worried for our friends, our family, our humanity. We are lost in a sea of despair and it is hard to remain above water. But we cannot stay in this place, we cannot remain adrift in the seas for drowning is not an option. We must learn from Tisha B’av to turn to the world with hope and try to build a better world for us all. We need to look for the good, to try and find the places of hope and light in the midst of the darkness; the people who are reaching out to one another in kindness and compassion, the ones who show their humanity even in the depths of darkness and tragedy, to find the stories of love and care and blessing. For the world is not only darkness, there are shafts of light pushing through the pain, and it is there we can find the hope for us and for humanity.
We can put our faith in humanity once more, we can lift our eyes to the mountains and find our help there in the inspiring stories of people who have brought goodness and blessing into the world. Gandhi said that we each need to become the change that we want to see in the world and that is our challenge now as we face a world of tragedy and pain, it is to find the courage to hope, to find the strength to believe in a different tomorrow; one which is filled with peace and serenity for all.