We find ourselves amid the period known as “Bein hametzarim” or the “Three weeks”. From 17 Tammuz until 9 Av, (17 July – 7 August), we observe various customs of mourning. We refrain from weddings and celebrations, we don’t play music or attend concerts and we don’t have haircuts or shave.
These practices are intended to create an atmosphere of sadness and a sense of loss. The grief that we feel is specifically for the destruction of the two temples, the first in 586 BCE and the second in 70CE, but it is not limited to those tragic events. During this time, we remember all Jewish tragedies from our complex history, from our earliest exile at the hands of the Babylonians, to modern-day pogroms and genocides.
And although this period is a somber one, we shouldn’t mistakenly conflate sadness with depression. As a nation, we have never been depressed.
Sadness is an acceptance of unhappy events having taken place; the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, a failed endeavor. Depression is when that feeling of sadness appears to be permanent. Depression provokes a sense of hopelessness; the situation is one that we feel cannot be remedied and as a result we may feel despair.
This is not the Jewish attitude. We may, at times, be bruised, but we are never broken.
This time of year, more than any other, is where we recognise, and perhaps even celebrate, the resilience and fortitude of the Jewish people. We are a nation that, despite being oppressed in every generation, rises up again, against the odds.
Despite our extinction being constantly predicted, we disobediently march forward, flourishing and thriving.
This is a time where we are sad, but are also hopeful, resilient, and defiant.
What is true on a national scale, is equally true in our personal lives. There are times to mourn and grieve with sadness, but through those periods we find our grit, our courage and our resilience. We will bounce back and once again experience success. Happiness will return to our lives.
As parents, we can role model this courage during our most challenging times. We can exhibit strength and character when we feel our most vulnerable. We can role model hope.
Hope isn’t knowing that things will get better, but rather, in the words of the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “hope is the belief that, together, we can make the world better.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rabbi Gad Krebs is the College Rabbi at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW.