Today is the 17th of Tammuz in the Jewish calendar. The day marks the anniversary for a number of terrible events in Jewish history. Five great catastrophes occurred in Jewish history on the 17th of Tammuz.
1. Moses broke the tablets at Mount Sinai — in response to the sin of the Golden Calf.
2. The daily offerings in the First Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem, after the Kohanim could no longer obtain animals.
3. Jerusalem’s walls were breached, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.
4. Prior to the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostamos burned a Torah scroll – setting a precedent for the horrifying burning of Jewish books throughout the centuries.
5. An idolatrous image was placed in the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple – a brazen act of blasphemy and desecration.
The day also marks the beginning of the Three Weeks, a period of time that extends until Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar, a day commemorating the destruction of both the first and second Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It’s considered the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, since everything that has gone wrong for the Jews since than, can be contributed to what happened on TishaB’Av, as well as on the 17th of Tammuz.
The Three Weeks are the mourning season between these two dates remembering these losses but more importantly to stir out our hearts in order that we utilize the paths of Teshuva (repentance), returning to G-d, and to serve as a reminder to us of our own actions and of our forefathers. These mistaken actions are responsible for the terrible events, which befell our people. Remembering these tragedies should lead us to examine our conduct and return to G-d.
The 17th of Tammuz is generally a fast day, as well as the first day for a bunch of other restrictions to kick in for the Three Weeks. Those include no listening to or playing music, no weddings or simchas, no haircuts/shaving and more. (For more wisdom regarding these days, click here: Laws of 17thofTammuz&3Weeks for an extensive list of laws during the days.)
For me it’s no coincidence the time of the year is upon year, based on what’s going on inside my head. I’m not sure if I should call it a crossroad, but I know that I can’t help but feel like there is so much more that I’m capable of accomplishing, yet I remain stagnant behind various issues and roadblocks I just can’t overcome. Call them distractions, diversions or even deficiencies, I give you an entire dictionary of words that comprehend something I feel is holding me back from achieving my potential.
I started working with the Jewish Tribune nearly two months ago, just after Lag B’Omer and before Shavuot – during the Sephira Ha’Omer, another time of the year with similar restrictions. I asked myself am I a better person since starting my new job? Well it depends how I define “better”… Maybe I am… I’ve tried to be nicer to people, since I interact a lot more with them on the job. I definitely become better at being a journalist with the experience, but I’m still not satisfied with those answers. Maybe I’m asking the wrong question. How about Am I being a better Jew?
In all honesty, the answer is no I haven’t, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
• I’m not trying to be all pessimistic or negative about what I’ve done over the past through months. And no, I’m not taking the perspective that I have a lot more work to do, even though I’ve done a lot (which may be true, but I’ve said this a gazillion times).
• I’m talking about self-growth and improvement in places I’m lacking in.
• Making a commitment, diligence, discipline, having a sense of urgency and action.
• Not being lazy, not procrastinating and getting things done on time as expected.
• Not wasting time, staying organized, and creating a balance.
• Taking care of myself so that I’m capable of doing what I need to accomplish. Therefore, eating because I need energy to do things like working and prayer.
• Going to sleep when appropriate and getting out of bed in the morning.
• Attaching value to things unworthy. Making a new commitment, but neglecting another older one.
• Getting distracted by things I deem important and just getting completely off track by the smallest things possible, than needing a ton of hard-earned discipline to get back in the gear. And than that discipline takes so much out of you, you have no strength left to go forward.
• Planning ahead and anticipating what should be going on.
• Not devoting enough time to learning and prayer, something I should know by now is absolutely necessary for success (being nothing without it).
• The inability to control myself from urges that if they were public knowledge, would damage my reputation for life.
• Becoming the kind of person I hate: an arrogant lazy bum who’s all talk, yet fails to meet the demands of the world, but more importantly the will of G-d.
There’s probably a lot more but I just I feel so conflicted a lot of time, especially around my friends, who although I’ve neglected many over the school year (because I give myself the impression that school takes up my entire life), but because when I want to hang out with them, I sometimes feel obligated to do things I ma not be exactly comfortable doing. I speak of this matter ONLY concerning the Three Weeks. In the past few days, I’ve been invited to movies, ultimate Frisbee games on Shabbat and various birthday parties. Normally, I’d be all for it. I try to be a loyal friend as often as possible, but with these things asked to done during the Three Weeks, I find myself conflicted. Even this past Monday after covering an event, I had this very strong urge to hang out with some friends from university whom I’ve barely seen all year (which I did), yet here I sit wondering if it was worth it to not make it back for the 9:45 pm evening prayer service, which I didn’t think I’d make it back for anyway but probably could of since the event I covered ended early.
I don’t know if I’m losing it over things seemingly small, or maybe all these thoughts are finally coming to fruition because I know I can be dong so much more. There’s so much doubt over the direction of my life, sometimes I don’t even know where to start. I usually turn to peer support when I have issues because I know I can count on them for the right support. But I feel to embarrassed to discuss specific issues because I have this perception of myself in the minds of others, and who knows what opening up and discussing demons may do to that reputation, especially when approaching shidduch age – and when some of your friends go on and on about marriage, and the pressure mounts to be independent and to appear uber-confident when in reality that just isn’t the case. (Now I’m getting weird and paranoid).
But at least I’m being open about this (in some kind of method). It may not be telling someone in person, but doing this helps. And so does this:
Enough is enough. No more excuses, distractions. It’s time I live up to my potential in all facets of life.
And to anyone who reads this blog – regardless if you know me personally, see me often or not – if you catch or see me doing something I know I shouldn’t be doing – let me know what I’m doing wrong and let me have it.
Seriously. That includes blog posts, facebook updates, inappropriate photos, things I say or do, my attitude. In future G-d willing I’ll be more open to being specific on things I need help with. This doesn’t mean a change in blog format, just an addition.
I’m tired of being good enough looking from the wrong side up.
Remind me of this post, constantly.
Thanks for reading. Though it wasn’t my intent I hope I inspired someone through putting my pain into words.