By Rabbi David
Here’s a summary of the Jewish spiritual journey through late October. It starts now (yes, really). To show why it makes sense to start now, let’s take this journey in reverse.
Simchat Torah links endings to beginnings and reboots the spiritual year with Creation. Why are we ready for that?
Because Sukkot celebrated the year’s bounties, in an open sukkah mirroring our own openness to ease, light, flow and joy. Why are we ready for that?
Because Yom Kippur rebooted our souls: we got raw and real, we released hurts, we remembered who we really are. Why are we ready for that?
Because Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe in between called us back. The shofar shattered the illusion of our separateness. We saw what we needed to see. Why are we ready for that?
Because the holy month of Elul and especially Selichot got us ready. We felt the season start to turn, and we began to turn. Why are we ready for that?
Because Tisha b’Av bursts through the walls that grew back over the past year, ultimately showing us the illusions that those walls can represent. Why are we ready for that?
Because sometime in mid summer, a day called Shiv’ah Asar b’Tammuz (17 Tammuz) brings the first knock on those walls. Historically 17 Tammuz recalls when Roman soldiers first reached and breached Jerusalem’s outer walls en route to destroying the Temple on Tisha b’Av. Spiritually, 17 Tammuz brings the first faint knock on our walls – reminding us that we have them.
This spiral journey will take time. We need time to become so deeply aware of what’s unfolded inside that we stir again (maybe after rebelling against it!). We need time to notice the walls, move beyond them, get real, go deep and then rise high.
Hence our mid-summer 17 Tammuz wake-up call. It’s quiet, subtle, gentle, just a faint knock on the door. This year, 17 Tammuz just happens to coincide exactly with Shabbat by the Sea.
Listen for the knock. It’ll be for you. Our timeless spiral journey begins anew.