Wednesday, April 29, 2009

From Mourning to Morning

We just completed the observing of Yom HaZicharon, Israel's Memorial Day and the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut, our Independence Day.

The first day is the day we remember our loved ones who gave their lives for the survival of this nation, and the day we stand with the families who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this Land. Yom HaZicharon is a day of deep sadness, a day when we are permitted to remember and to mourn.

For us, a Land so small and a People so connected, there is not one person or family untouched by the loss of someone in war or in terror attacks. Our history as a People is ancient, but our history in restoring this Land is within our collective lifetime, and the losses are fresh - some just a short 61 years ago, some yesterday. For us, it is ongoing and the sorrow is personal and intense.

Remarkably however, in the fading hours of HaZicharon, a torch is lit, and the Day of Remembering is immediately handed off to a Day of Rejoicing.... rejoicing in our rebirth as a modern nation, rejoicing and celebrating this miracle of our return to the Land of our destiny.

The juxtaposition of the two days is purposeful, because it is recognized that without the sacrifice of those who died, we would not have had the miracle of rebirth. One of the realities of Judaism is expression of the balance between two opposites - things like mourning and joy, mercy and justice - for it is recognized that without the one, the other cannot exist.

So it is with these holidays. The two holidays are linked together, not just on our calendars, but knit together in our collective soul. As a country, we move from somber services and tears to fireworks and BBQ's in an immediate turnaround.

It is not easy. In some ways it seems it is asking a lot of us as a people. I struggle with it. Many struggle with it. Many are unable to make the quick transition.

I am very close to a family who has had many many losses, not all of them war losses, but all connected to this two day period. The sadness of their family at this time of year penetrates my soul, and I find it difficult at first to move forward. Part of me shouts, stop! wait! we need to linger here a little longer.

But the day marches on, the torch has been lit, and slowly, all together as a people, we move out of our mourning into the morning of a different day. I think it would be impossible alone.

You see this is one of the things that defines us as a People and what makes Am Yisrael unique...we do what we do, together, as one. For it would be too much to ask those who have suffered such tragedy to just turn around and change course. But as a People our losses and our joys are shared, and what one cannot do alone can be accomplished together as a unit.

There is yet another secret to Am Yisrael. One might think that it is on the shoulders of those whose loss is less personal, that the families and individuals for whom the loss was deeper are carried. But I think not. It was really the words of my friend in the hours of transition that helped me to move ahead. You see, most of the time it is the strength of those who have lost the most who carry the rest of us. Yet, it comes full circle, as they strengthen us we can strengthen them....the lines are indistinguishable.

It's who we are as a People.

And so, reluctant as I was to move forward just 24 hours ago, by the end of the day today, spending time with many friends, watching fireworks and tekesim (ceremonies), enjoying the wonderful food off the BBQ and seeing them smoking all around the country, I felt, at last, some semblance of peace.

Finally I realize the wisdom of the juxtaposition of the Two Days. Without the collective move into celebration, however slowly and hesitantly we go there, we might be tempted to stay in the mourning. We have other very well prescribed ways to give us the needed times of individual mourning. But as a People, it is necessary for us first to suffer together the sorrow, and then to lift one another up so that we can face tomorrow; it is necessary for us to go forward as One People, Am Yisrael.

Because we are also inseparable from this Land we celebrate, I think it is only here in Eretz Yisrael that the fullness of what I am saying can be fully realized and understood. We are married to this Land - Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, we are one.

Happy Birthday.

1 comment:

  1. A very moving post, Marcia. I also appreciate the connection between Memorial Day and Independence Day. I think it's good to be mindful of the price we have payed and continue to pay for our freedom.