Ilan Glazer
Founder, Our Jewish Recovery & Co-Founder, Our Love Continues

Every Day Is A Day For Mourning

Tisha B’Av 5783

July 26-27, 2023

Today is a day for mourning…


…but isn’t every day a day for mourning?

Every day we experience countless moments of the world’s brokenness.

War. Famine. Poverty. Climate Change. Terrorism. Homelessness. And more.

The brokenness is all around us. Addiction. Grief. Despair. Pain.

Every day we meet people whose lives have been dimmed by the darkness of living.

Sometimes, the walls of our lives come toppling down. Our hopes and dreams destroyed before our very eyes. Rejection. Illness. Despair. Death.

Sometimes, the losses we carry with us darken our souls. We yearn for a time when things were better, a time when our loved ones were still here with us, not just in the shadows of our memories. Sometimes, the pain of their absence propels us inward. There can’t be any joy for us now that the life we wanted or the people we love are gone. How can we possibly sing at all in this strange land without them? We give up and drown ourselves in the pain.

Every day is a day for mourning.

Some (most) days we distract ourselves from the pain of living. We pretend the pain isn’t there, we drown it away, we see it but refuse to acknowledge it for fear we’ll fall completely apart. Our addictions and compulsions keep the sadness at bay (so we tell ourselves, anyway). So long as I keep going I can outrun the doubts, the sadness, the yearning, the hunger, the pain. So long as I can find something to be happy about, I can make it through today. I just have to keep going. I don’t have time to be sad, anyway. There’s too much to do and I have bills to pay. No one wants to hear what I have to say anyway. Maybe I deserve all of this suffering. Maybe God hates me. Maybe it’s all my fault. Maybe I should just give up now. Drinking (and other addictions) is not the answer, but at least when we drink (or drug, gamble, eat, or whatever we turn to), we can forget the questions for a little while…

Every day is a day for mourning.

When we distract ourselves from feeling our feelings, we also distract ourselves from our own healing. We can not heal what we refuse to acknowledge. What we resist persists. When we really see the fullness of our pain, we find a few interesting things.

1) Sometimes the pain we carry is ours to carry, and sometimes we’ve inherited it from others. Hard as it often is, we can let go of other’s pain, honoring it for teaching us, and allowing it to be recycled into the earth, composted into love. Just because others taught us to be angry doesn’t mean we need to be. Just because they taught us to put on a happy face doesn’t mean we need to follow their ways either. Sometimes, we are miserable because we’ve been carrying others wisdom and wounds for too long. On the healing journey, we are allowed to find our own way, and we do get to decide what to carry with us and what to lay gently down.

2) Sometimes, we have a lot of cleanup we need to. The lies we told. The people we cheated out of their own happiness because we were desperately clinging to our own. How can we face the harm we’ve done? Courage, compassion, and a community of support are needed. It takes time to repair the harms we’ve caused. Every time we engage in an act of teshuvah, a piece of our soul shines a little brighter. Are we willing to work through the ash-heap of our fears, doubts, insecurities, resentments, and amends needing to be made? Are we willing to see the fullness of ourselves? Are we willing to learn how to step out of despair and fight for the inner peace and wholeness we deserve? Sometimes we make progress, and sometimes not. Sometimes we remember that healing takes time and sometimes our impatience gets in the way. Am I better than I was yesterday and the day before? Is the trajectory of my life moving forward or backward? Am I getting better in any way or am I giving in to my demons and darkness? Progress, not perfection is the way home.

3) Sometimes, we have clung to the pain of our lives because we refuse to believe that a better life is possible. Sometimes, we carry our pain as a badge of honor – I’ll never make it. Do you know what happened to me? Our heartbreak and pain can show us the inner work calling us to a higher level, if we are willing to see it, heal it, and learn how to open ourselves to love and a better tomorrow.

4) Sometimes we think that if we let go of our pain it means that the experience didn’t matter to us. How can I forgive them for what they did? We forget that letting go of the pain we hold close isn’t the same as forgetting. Letting go is a turning, a shift in perspective, and a reminder that the terrible things we’ve experienced don’t have to define us forever.

5) Sometimes we think that the more we hold on to the pain of missing our loved ones, the more they are still with us. When I miss them, when I cry out from the separation, at least I still feel close. I never want to forget their faces, their smile, their touch, the sound of their voice, the love they shared. We tell ourselves that we need to hold on to the pain so we can remember them. We forget that we can also remember the good memories and keeping ourselves in pain isn’t the only way to honor our loved ones. As we step out of the pain, we may indeed forget their smiles, their smells, and the sounds of their voice. If we remember the lessons they taught us, they will still be with us. We can remember them even if we never got to say goodbye. We can say goodbye now. We can bury the painful memories and keep the wisdom inside us. Keeping ourselves broken doesn’t repair our relationships, it only prevents us from healing.

Every day is a day for mourning what was, what is, and what could have been had the story turned out differently.

It’s hard to rewrite the story of our lives. There are too many cracks, too many shadows, too many what-ifs, too many questions. None of us want to feel the pain of living, but holding that pain and still finding ways to keep our hearts open – this is the essence of life. There will always be pain. Can there still be love to go with it?

Every day is a day for mourning.

On this day, may we sit in the pain without running away. May we feel the sadness, the brokenness, the despair, so that we can begin to heal. When we commit to healing, the future will surprise us. New paradigms and ways of life will emerge for us. We will be blessed in ways we couldn’t possibly have imagined…and more pain will come our way too.

Every day is a day for mourning. Every day is also a day for love, for healing, for hope, and for learning to live our best lives.

Will we allow a new story to emerge from the ashes of our dreams? Will we open our hearts again to new possibilities? Turn us to You, Holy One, so that we can return to the best of ourselves. Renew our days as You have done for our ancestors of old. Hold us close. Forgive us when we forget You. Renew our days so that we are strong enough to hold sadness and pain and keep our hearts open to You and to ourselves.

Every day is a day for mourning, and every day is also a day for loving and living.

Mourning is holy work. We need not move too quickly out of our pain. There are lessons to be learned. As we do, our ability to love also increases. Slowly, hope will find us again, laughter, and love will open us up again if we allow it and heal whatever is in their way.

Every day is a day for mourning, and every day is also a day for loving and living.

May all of us who mourn know peace, and may all of us who yearn for a better life be renewed with open hearts, so that we can hold and honor the pain along with the blessings.

May the memories of our loved ones always be for a blessing, and may we turn our sorrows into songs of love.

Tisha B’Av 5783

  • In memory of Shemaryah Zichri Vishner Glazer

About the Author
Rabbi Ilan is a seeker of spiritual healing, wholeness, renewal, and inner peace. Ilan is the founder of Our Jewish Recovery, a recovery community dedicated to uplifting the hearts and souls of everyone impacted by addiction in the Jewish world, author of And God Created Recovery, and co-founder of Our Love Continues, a community for Jewish parents who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, pregnancy loss, or the death of a child at any age. Ilan and his wife Sherri helped start the group after the death of their son Shemaryah Zichri in January 2022. Ilan works as a rabbi, a spiritual guide, and a transformation and recovery coach, and leads communities in inspired, prayerful experiences and teachings. Ilan is a storyteller, a composer of original melodies, and a lover of life, even with its shmutz. Ilan is honored to work with individuals, couples, families, and communities who are looking to find serenity, spirituality, and the next chapter of their healing journey. Ilan is working on an album of original melodies Shemaryah helped bring to the world. More information about the album can be found here: Ilan was ordained as a Rabbi and Mashpia (Spiritual Counselor) by ALEPH, and as a Maggid (Inspirational Storyteller) by Maggid Yitzhak Buxbaum. Ilan lives in Baltimore with his wife Sherri and their two cats Annie Lev and Peretz Dov.
Related Topics
Related Posts