Travel Delays and the Nine Days

Julie Hauser July 24, 2023

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Farewell at the airport. Delayed, delayed, boarded, delayed, cancelled. Pick up from same airport. Repeat scenario the following day (with a new lunch packed).

Early this summer, one of my children had a few days of very frustrating travel delays and cancellations. However, this episode ultimately resulted in incredible Divine providence, in a yeshua (salvation) of such perfection we could have never predicted.

It gave us such a feeling of simcha and shelaimut (completion) to see the hashgacha. I wanted the feeling to last, and it expanded as I retold the story to whomever I encountered!

This is what simcha feels like. It’s easy to share, to celebrate, to expand. As each detail is repeated, the world seems to brighten and lighten.

In contrast, when a person feels real loss and mourning (may you never know of it), they are so absorbed in it that it’s almost impossible to see beyond the pain.

The Three Weeks on the Jewish calendar have arrived. In this sober time, we recall tragedy and loss. We recede. No weddings, no music, etc., and then during the Nine Days we observe further mourning restrictions.

We feel the constriction, yet, at this point in galus, it is hard to get on the level of really feeling connected to the loss, even though the halachos of these Three Weeks build us up (with an inverted sequence) to that intense mourning. We try to work up to a state of lack and realize the loss of the completeness and expansiveness of what was and will be ours with the Bais HaMikdash.

When I was approached to write an article on “finding meaning amidst the fun of summer,” I realized, isn’t that precisely our galus? Isn’t the real question: how can we be having summer fun in the midst of this meaningful time?

Rabbi Zev Leff explains when we observe the Yomim Tovim, we don’t just commemorate, we re-live them. Every year, on Pesach, we re-live the yetzias Mitzrayim. On Shavuos, we re-receive the Torah. On Sukkos, we re-live the journey in the desert. So too, at this time, we re-live the Churban. But, how?

I heard Rabbi Leff describe how legitimately challenging it is to feel a lack when it’s not something you feel so emotional about. Imagine, he said, if someone would tell you that today is the anniversary of the death of your great-great-great-great grandmother. You may respond, “Oh, that was today?” It wouldn’t put you in a great state of mourning because you didn’t quite have a relationship with that woman who lived four hundred and fifty years ago.

Similarly, Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, ztz’l, commented it’s a lot easier to find bochurim to attend a wedding of a groom they don’t know (to add to the simcha), than to find young men willing to go cry at a funeral of a stranger. In the absence of a relationship, it’s just easier to join in a simcha rather than to feel a loss.

Rabbi Pincus said: If we would know how tremendously lacking we are in ruchniyus (spirituality), we would sob over our sorry state…Not just that the nations of the world reign over us; even worse is that Klal Yisrael is satisfied and makes do with the paltry portion of spirituality we have.

Every person on their own level can learn what this time of year has to offer. Let us not be dismayed by the delays, cancellations, and roadblocks.

Our eyes are usually so blinded, with so many barriers between us and the truth, says Rav Pincus. Tisha B’av is a sober day of truth. He suggests when we listen to Megillas Eicha, to ask ourselves, upon hearing word the word “eicha” (‘how…’), hear it also as the word “ayeika,” where are you? Make a spiritual accounting, a cheshbon hanefesh, to answer the question ”Where am I?” and clean your own eyes. When we cry, Rav Pincus says, the tears wash our eyes of blockages.

We don’t feel Tisha B’Av enough, because we don’t know what Hashem is and what we are missing…one of the foundations of Tisha B’Av is to feel that we lack the dwelling of the Shechina in our midst, and to feel that when Hashem was in our midst, there was no greater happiness than this.

Rav Pincus suggests to try to feel the sweetness of Hashem. Look at the rich and varied colors that exist in nature, and think of what a world full of grace Hashem has granted us. Just this little thought can bring a person to love and appreciate Hashem, he says. “This is the goal of it all: to bring Hashem into our personal world and feel His presence.”

May we merit to see with our “washed eyes” the Bais HaMikdash speedily rebuilt, with Geula that is whole and perfect — our true destination, after all the delays and false starts!

Julie is an occupational therapist, photographer, and author of several books including her newest, titled Making It Mine. You may recognize her as the author of Pesach While You Sleep, or one of her other titles available here. Julie lives with her husband and children (who wonder which occupation is her ‘real job’) in Detroit, Michigan.
Learn more about the author: https://juliehauser.my.canva.site/
View the book trailer for her latest book full of inspiration and practical interviews that bring it all home: https://tinyurl.com/MakingItMineh20