I love many forms of music but have not been blessed with any musical skills. I love literature but have never been able to read Proust. I love books about mathematics but do not have a mathematical mind. I love art but am not artistic. I love fiction but have not written a short story since I was seven years old. I love refinishing old furniture but have not done any of that sort of work since 1984. I love to ski but am not very good at it. I love photography but my finger finds its way into every picture. I love watching a computer genius at work but will never completely master Word. I am not frustrated by any of the above because I can sum it all up by saying I love the adventure of life. I can't claim to be exceptionally good at living life, but the joy offered by so many possibilities is enough for me to feel that life is good. I guess you can call me a Possibility Gatherer.
I loved learning with my grandfather zt"l although I didn't have his knowledge or memory. I loved spending time with Rav Yaakov Kaminestky zt"l despite that I was not as righteous as was he. I loved studying with my father zt"l even though I knew that I could not read a text with as much insight as did he. I loved being with great people because they reflected the possibilities of life. The possibilities are sufficient to make me happy. I rejoice in being a Possibility Gatherer.
The most powerful moment of Tisha B'Av for me is midday when I can rise from sitting in a mourner's position on the floor and sit on a regular chair. The Temple continued to burn but we shed a small part of our mourning in middle of the day because Jeremiah refers to Tisha B'Av as a Mo'ed - a holiday. The prophet is describing our enemies' rejoicing when they destroyed Jerusalem, but the Sages grab hold of that, 'Mo'ed,' and refuse to let go. They declared Tisha B'Av to have some elements of a holiday. They want us to rise from the ground and begin to limit our mourning even when the Temple was still burning. They want us to see the possibilities of life even on the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. Even in mourning we must look to the promise of life. Mourning is not the natural state of a human being. Joyous adventure is ours for the taking. We are not survivors and sufferers; we are Possibility Gatherers, even on Tisha B'Av.
I recall a quote from Rabbi Joachim Prinz posted in the United States Holocaust Memorial: "To be a Jew was now a new discovery, and to emphasize one's Jewishness in the face of danger and disgrace became the thing to do." Only a Possibility Gatherer would discover "The Thing To Do," while suffering life in Nazi Germany. Only Possibility Gatherers could build the modern State of Israel from the ashes of the Holocaust.
There is only one question we must ask ourselves on Tisha B'Av: Can we still see the possibilities of life?
I can. I invite you to help me pick up all the possibilities I am busy gathering.
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg
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