Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tumbleweeds and temples

On Tisha b'Av I think about tumbleweeds. Cut off from their source of water, tumbleweeds dry, and take to the road, blowing for hundreds of miles across open plain and desert. They carry their seeds with them, an entire genetic blueprint for how to be a tumbleweed. When they come to rest, seeds are germinated in the rains, and a new cycle begins, often several states away from their starting point. The original tumbleweeds traveled to the Americas on the clothing and blankets of immigrants. The ones rolling through the Mojave at this moment are descended from ones that rolled through the Siberian steppes a few hundred years ago. They keep on rolling.

The destruction of the Temple was meant to destroy the Jewish people as a religious entity. It was supposed to yank out our spine, and take away our identity. We still mourn the loss of the Temple, the loss of life, the loss of land, but it's those who hate the Jews who should cry today. The attempt on our life as a people failed, when by any sane calculation it should have succeeded. Rabbinic Judaism did not just rise out of the loss of the Temple, it rocketed. Confident, steeped in tradition, the generations of the Talmud created a blueprint for Judaism for the road ahead.

Today, we remember, and we mourn. But we are able to mourn because we, and our people, are alive, and endlessly moving forward.