When a tragedy happens, it’s common to get depressed, get down, and focus on all the problems. Very often, tragedy, illness, and financial problems can lead to divorce, or alternatively, they can lead to a renewed strength in the relationship. Additionally, we can see from all those who have suffered a collective tragedy like 9/11 or October 7th, people come together regardless of their political beliefs, as the collective desire to chip in often outweighs the meaningless disagreements on political views.
I have two questions: one, is how do we prevent ourselves from falling into a black hole, into despair? How do we keep faith? Second, how do we keep the camaraderie that falls to the wayside so quickly? Similarly to what we have witnessed after 9/11, our collective support for one another is long gone.
I think the answer to the first question is much easier than answering the second question, and I’m open to any and all suggestions. Please let me know your thoughts! The Talmud relates a story about Rabbi Akiva and other sages who were standing on Mt. Scopus after the destruction of the temple.
As they were standing there, a fox was strolling through the holy of holies, and all the sages started crying, yet the greatest sage Rabbi Akiva started laughing. The sages said, “how can you laugh?” To which Rabbi Akiva responded, “now that I have seen the prophecy of Uriah come true, I can believe the prophecy of Isiah; Uriah prophesied that the temple would be so desecrated that a fox would run through the holy of holies, and Isiah prophesied that the streets of Jerusalem would be filled with joy and peace, and children will roam freely.
We are witnessing a tragedy and it’s not a laughing matter, yet if tragedy is possible, so too is happiness and joy. Both ends of the spectrum must exist, which is what Rabbi Akiva was teaching us. Pay attention to the miracles, pay attention and know there is a brighter future.
To the second question, all I can say is that we better keep on exercising our kindness, camaraderie and love muscles. We must remind ourselves that at the end of the day, all we have is each other, and fighting against ourselves will only lead to further tragedy, further destruction, further hate, and further despair.
This week, let’s keep on reminding ourselves that our part of the solution—or for that matter, the problem—is how we treat each other.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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