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Miriam Karp

Healing amidst rumbles of war: A Tammuz Tale

I’m sitting on the mirpesset, the porch, in baking midday Israel sun. I keep scooching the chair to seek protection in the continually shrinking patch of shade. Soon it will disappear, the whole porch will shimmer in blazing white sunlight. I’ll be forced to find refuge in the respite of the house where the air conditioning is blowing. But I want to stay out here in the quiet, overlooking the patchwork rolling hills of vineyards, scrub, stones, and trees; the dusty greens, browns, gold and rust that make up the terrain of this land of gritty ancient beauty and contradictions.

I need the quiet and solitude as I prepare to embark on an inner journey. I’m scrolling through my cell phone and pull up a soothing meditation on the inner healing work of the month of Tammuz. The gentle voice of the teacher reminds us: the breach of the walls of Jerusalem, the mourning period of the Three Weeks and the destruction of the Holy Temple, are the outer manifestations of an inner void. Her patient and kind voice comes through on WiFi. I feel connected to that time that violently ripped the fabric of Jewish consciousness several thousand years ago.

As she says, “This is a mourning for all that is not yet rectified on our planet. It is a mourning for all the suffering we and our loved ones, and communities encounter. It is a mourning over our unmet needs. It is a mourning over a disconnect from who we are, the essence of ourselves and of everything- our beloved Creator.”1

We are led into our bodies, to find a site of discomfort and pain, and sit with it. I feel my stomach, queasy with anxiety. Personal fears and unresolved stuff churn around. Then I hear a roar off to my right, to the west. A mechanical rumble and droning sound. My fears center on a tangible target.

I’m used to worrying about violent outbreaks and IDF missions from a safe distance, from my home across the Atlantic. I usually read the news and fret, sending my psalms to the east on spiritual airwaves. In the half dozen or so times I’ve been fortunate to visit my son and his family in the Holy Land, it’s been relatively quiet, save the simmering tension of the intifada.

Just days before IDF started a much-needed mission to clean out the terrorist hornet’s nest of Jenin, a mere 95 miles from here. They predict uprisings in response in East Jerusalem and Gaza. Gaza is about 35 miles away. Like kinda down the road. I don’t know if the sounds were military, but they well might be. I imagine boiling hot soldiers, loaded with gear, brave (and fearful?) young kids flying sorties or surveillance over the infamous strip.

I hear what sounds like choppers and jets and resist the urge to interrupt my meditation and gawk. The fear for the soldiers, for the general precarious state of this precious land and people, and for my safety on the little excursions I’ve planned, all meld together.  My stomach jumps and there’s a measure of panic in my chest.

Haya continues. “Find a place in your body that represents that resourceful wise place in you. Breathe through that place, that wise place. Breathe through that place and acknowledge that place, your resources, your wisdom, your love. Your essential goodness- your striving for goodness.  Go back to that part that may be struggling now. Breathe goodness, knowledge, compassion and understanding to that part.”

I focus on my heart and mind, which send messages to me, telling them that I am ok and my personal worries and insecurities are empty chatter.  I can breathe calm into them and ride them out, gently poke holes in the hot air anxiety bubbles with mature perspective. And with faith. Hashem has my back. My challenges are purposeful growth opportunities lovingly designed by my Father, helping me stretch and grow my consciousness and being, reveal hidden strengths and potential.

And so around me.

It’s crazy and miraculous that I’m here, that we Jewish people are here. Regular people, strong, resilient and G-dly people living in this land, speaking Hebrew, drinking coffee, going on buses to work and play. So much incredible grit and growth and rebirth and building. The challenges are real. The Temple has not yet been built, the breaches and pain and suffering are all too real.

But with incredible faith and miracles and calm reasoned thinking that reaches beyond what anyone can in any logical, natural way expect, the Jewish people are here, in Israel and the myriad places around the world that life has landed us, where Hashem has planted us; growing and building and healing and hurting and producing and trying.

And the military born 75 years ago literally out of ashes, will persist and prevail, yet again, one way or another; just as my mind/heart, infused by emunah, calms my worries. I breathe deeply and once again recalibrate, getting ready to keep on keeping on. Planting and please Hashem sowing. Every effort transforming my inner and outer world in ways usually unseen.

Some seven hours later it’s golden magic twilight. I’ve come back out on the porch. The golden ball is gently settling in the west. Lavender and pink settle hazily over the hills as they rest from the heat of the day.

I hear the choppers again. But this time they inspire assurance. “We’ve got this. We’re on it,” the drone of their swirling blades seems to say. My almost 40-year-old son is clearing his yard below, for his son’s birthday party tomorrow. He’s been serving in the IDF and reserves for almost 20 years, through many challenging periods. He’s raised himself and his family in this land. Determined to have a normal life, he sets out chairs and tables for a sweet family gathering. A dove suddenly lands on the porch railing, gazes at me, and flies off.

Geulah is coming. It’s fleeting now, like my calm, like the sweet bird’s presence. But it’s this combination of building from below, protecting, reaching above, healing and calming our inner and external vulnerabilities, being “normal” people in this land, on this planet. Being so much more. Channels and connectors to eternal truth and good.

Working this combination, from earthly efforts reaching upwards, while drawing heavenly kisses and inspiration down, will bring that sweetness to fruition, to revelation. We’re waiting. To hear birds chirping, owls hooting, and sounds of war silenced. To see a heavenly light pouring into this blessed land and our blessedly whole and fully integrated selves, from an everlasting portal on the mountaintop in Jerusalem. Into the land and into the waiting world.

1 Haya Baker, Tammuz meditation, Hayabaker.com

About the Author
Miriam Karp is a writer, artist, and lecturer, trying make light with her husband and family from their corner of the world, Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the author of Painting Zaidy's Dream: memoir of a searching soul and shares her thoughts often on Chabad.org.
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