|Life Lessons: The Tissue Box|
|Written by The Heileger Chana Chaya|
It was Tisha B'Av, the time on the calendar that we lost our temples. I entered the synagogue for the Tisha B'Av. I searched for the tissues so I could grab a few before they were all gone. After all,it was the ninth of Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar.
The tissue box was on the shtender (rack) in front of me. I took a handful of tissues and left the rest so that others can have them also. I felt lucky that I got to them first. I am accustomed to seeing the women reaching for tissues during Yizkor, the prayer for the dead, so I naturally expected even more tissues to be used during Eicha and Kinot. I expected many would cry as we read about the destruction of the Temples, and the horrific stories of the tortuous death of so many.
I read the words of Eicha, as they were being sung by the Baal Koreh. How wonderful the city of Jerusalem had been. How much we have lost. We lost the Shechina, the presence of God, in our everyday life. How dreadful the experience of the destruction. We read how people killed their princes, how people starved to death, how people were tortured. And the most horrifying story, to me, was that of the previously devoted mothers who killed their own children to eat them.
I cried with each line I read. The footnotes made the pictures even more graphic. I talked to God to ask for support in just reading this. It was so difficult. I use crutches to walk and as I sat there in front of the tissue box, I held one of my crutches tightly in my palm to feel the support of something. It was so intense and so sad.
I cried over what I was reading. Each additional description of the horror of that time brought more tears.
I looked up through my tears and I once again noticed the box of tissues on the shtender in front of me. Unmoved!
No one reached for a tissue. And there were other boxes of tissues that I noticed in various spots, all untouched, all in the same position they were in before and all with the same top tissue as before the service started.
I cried some more. But this time I cried because no one needed a tissue.
Where is our heart? How can we sit together and read this stuff and not cry, or even become teary enough to need a tissue? How can we read about the fires of the destruction of the Temples and not be moved to put them out with our tears?
So now, I was crying, and still am, over the untouched, unmoved tissue box.
Jeremiah, the prophet, told us "If you had cried sincerely, only once, while in Zion, you would not have been in exile." The prophet pleaded with us over and over, for 40 years, telling us to cry. Had we cried, we would not have gone into exile.
Are we crying yet? What possibilities the prophet’s words open up for us on each fast day. They tell us that God hears our tears and responds to them. God wants our tears.
Let us not, “wrap ourselves in a cloud that no prayer can pierce” (Jeremiah 3:44).
Tears get through all of the gates of Heaven. God's wants our sincere prayers.
God wants your tears and mine.
May God love us and help us to understand.
Copyright©Chana Klein 2011www.thespectrumcoach.com