When I hear the word “ashes” at this time of year, I am reminded that Tisha B’Av is coming, and that it’s the saddest time of the year on the Jewish calendar. Both Temples were destroyed and this started the long galut.
I once heard a rabbi speak about this and he related a story in the Talmud that was quite inspirational. He said that the Talmud tells of three great rabbis and Rabbi Akiva that were in Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple. They saw wolves roaming around the holiest part of the Temple.
The three rabbis began to weep and Rabbi Akiva began to laugh. The rabbis were shocked and asked him why he was laughing. He asked them in return why they were crying. They answered that they are overcome with grief seeing wolves roaming in a place so holy that only the high priest was permitted to enter.
Rabbi Akiva answered, “I am laughing for the same reason you are crying. I now know that just as the prophecy that foretold of this destruction came to be, so the prophecy that tells of our redemption will come true.”
This story tells me that while there is a time for crying and mourning, at that same time we should know that with faith and resilience we can move forward with confidence that better times are coming.
Is that not the history of our people?