Three Weeks in the Dog Days of Summer

An Article for the Syosset-Jericho Tribune:

Three Weeks in the Dog Days of Summer

By Rabbi Chanan Krivisky

The “Three Weeks” is an annual mourning period that falls out in the summer. This is when the Jewish people mourn the siege of Jerusalem which culminated in the destruction of the Holy Temple and the beginning of our still-ongoing 2,000 year exile.

Yet within this time of bitter reflection we carry the Torah’s promise, stoking our fervent hope and expectation, that these days will be nullified and even transformed into gladness and joy - holidays in fact!

How can it be that the time of our greatest sorrow will become our greatest jubilation?

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, would say, "One deed is more valuable than one thousand sighs."

The answer lies in taking action.

The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed because of “baseless hatred”, and it will be rebuilt because of wanton acts of goodness and kindness.

By going out of our way, out of our comfort zone and even, “above and beyond” in seeking the victory of light over darkness, we will see the fulfillment of the Rebbe’s maxim that even a little bit of light pushes away a lot of darkness.

The world is becoming illuminated. We can now clearly see that the changes going on around us can be harnessed for goodness on a larger scale than ever before.  The capacity for positive deeds has never been more accessible. We live in an auspicious time when the opportunity to do good and the greatest effect can be achieved immediately.

A person must not be a passive observer in their environment and society (not to mention a negative factor).  We have a duty to our society to be a positive and active agent to improve our surroundings both locally and globally. In our times, everyone has the capacity to do so at least to some degree.

On the basis of the principle that the essential thing is the deed, as quoted earlier, there needs to be practical conclusion of our collective positive intentions. Regardless of how our daily life expressed itself in the past, we each have a duty - personally and collectively - to our environs and the world as a whole, to order our lives in fullest accord according to a G-dly ideal. Living with this consciousness and mindfulness, observance has never been more accessible to everyone. This is an enormous privilege that we have of fulfilling a sacred obligation to ourselves, our people, our families, workplace and community.

Not only through mournful reflection can we heal and bring redemption to ourselves and the world, but mainly through optimism that leads to positive action can we nullify the negative and bring a time of jubilation and celebration.

Our sages tell us that those who mourn the destruction of Jerusalem will merit seeing it rebuilt with the coming of Moshiach. May that day come soon, and then all the mournful dates on the calendar will be transformed into days of tremendous joy and happiness for us all.