Image: An imprint of a foot in the sand, just before the surf obliterates it. (Pixabay)
Believe it or not, we are at the barest beginning of a cycle that will bring us to the High Holy Days in the fall.
Sunday marked the beginning of the build-up to the grimmest day in the Jewish calendar: Tisha B’Av. For the next three weeks, the Haftarah (prophetic) readings will warn us that God is angry with Israel, that it is time to repent our selfish ways.
What to do with these? We can go to shul, read or listen to the Haftarah readings, and let them open our hearts. If the Saturday morning services are difficult for you to access, read the readings:
- Jeremiah 1:1 – 2:3
- Haftarah for Ashkenazim: Jeremiah 2:4 – 28; 3:4 Haftarah for Sephardim: Jeremiah 2:4 – 28; 4:1 – 4:2
- Isaiah 1:1-27
How can we make use of these readings to enrich our spiritual lives?
1. We can hear them in the context of the synagogue service -or-
2. We can read and ponder them: “What do the prophets’ words have to do with me?”
3. We can open our hearts to repentance and change.
Traditionally this was a season of sadness, preparing to re-experience or remember the trauma of Tisha B’Av, the destruction of the Temple.
Besides that, it is a reminder that our tradition is to remember and learn from past mistakes. It is another “Never again” – this time not about the Holocaust but about the terrible, terrible damage we do ourselves and others when we indulge in sinat chinam, baseless hatred.
So I will not say “Enjoy” – but I will wish you fruitful reflection and fruitful prayers during this solemn time.