Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ushering in the Month of Elul


In the Europe of yesteryear, when the plums and pears ripened, everyone knew -- it was the month of Elul. They dubbed it the time of "Flaumen un Beren" (plums and pears) – a pun – flames and burning; time to throw oneself into serving G-d with burning passion.  Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, memorably describes Elul’s arrival in the town of Lubavitch:

On the Sabbath before Elul, although it was still summer, the atmosphere changed. The scent of Elul was already felt and a Teshuvah[1]-wind began to blow. Every Jew became more deliberate, more preoccupied with his thoughts, beginning to forget mundane matters.   Everyone from scholars to simple people began to prepare for the upcoming holiday, involving their entire beings and bodies…With great anticipation they looked forward to reciting the Psalm “The L-rd is my light and my salvation,” and the voice of the shofar, that first blast which announced that the gates of the Month of Mercy were open.[2]

This Elul urgency is not something the rabbis initiated to get us in the mood for the the High Holidays – no – its an actual reflection of a spiritual reality, a sudden gush of G-dly revelation that emerges on the first of Elul.  This revelation takes the form of the King in the field, the King as Beloved – a time when G-d is seeking us out on our own turf.  There is awe and trembling as we think of the Day of Judgment approaching, but there is also a unique closeness and attachment to G-d, Who seeks us out down here in this world.  It’s a time for each of us to focus on our private audience with The Creator. 


What is the story of the month of Elul, and why does it compel with such urgency and power?


[1] Repentence
[2] Likutei Diburim volume 1

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mystery Stone Resolved

During the Roman and Byzantine eras (1st-7th centuries) the Lower Galilee was home to a flourishing Jewish community with major centers in Tiberias, Sepphoris, and more.  Given the large number of communities dotting the area, it was important to set Shabbat boundaries.  These were marked by poles or stones set approximately 1 km from the municipal area.   It’s likely that members of these communities erected the techum Shabbat reminder.

The area around the Timrat techum Shabbat rock.  The ancient road leads to nearby towns

Surviving ancient Shabbat boundary markers are rare, and this one is even rarer. Mordechai Aviam, head of the Institute for Galilean Archeology at Kinneret College: “This is the first time we’ve found a Shabbat boundary inscription in Hebrew.  The letters are so clear that there is no doubt that the word is ‘Shabbat.’”


The marker in Timrat was probably set up in relationship to Mahalul (modern day Nahalal) or Simonia, located around the nearby Tel Shimron. These towns led to Roman highways.
A similar Shabbat boundary stone was found near the ancient village of Usha, in the Western Galilee, also on the side of a Roman road.  But that stone’s text is in Greek – CAB – probably the beginning of the word CABAT, Shabbat. 

The Usha stone: CAB (Shabbat) & GOYMCBA - perhaps the name of the Shabbat district

“This [Shabbat boundary marker] represents a beautiful, fascinating link between our modern world and antiquity, both emotional and archeological,” Aviam said. “Certainly for those of us who are religiously observant, but also for the secular among us who enjoy a stroll on Shabbat to know that we’re walking in places where Jewish history lived two thousand years ago.”  
For more on getting in touch with this history in person, check out Genesis Land for a taste of Bible times and Kefar Kedem for life in the days of the Mishnah and Talmud. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mystery Stone Found in Lower Galilee

Many people know that driving a car on Shabbat is prohibited, but you might be surprised to find that on Shabbat, even walking has its limits.  It’s 2,000 cubits to be exact (about 3,000 feet).  But this measurement’s starting line starts outside city limits—within the perimeters of a city, one can walk any distance.[1]  Since many cities are surrounded by adjoining cities, or suburbs that blend endlessly into each other, circumstances where this law applies are somewhat limited. The issue of techum Shabbat is definitely applicable in areas like the Catskill Mountains of New York. In order to demarcate the line of this boundary – known in Hebrew as techum Shabbat – a sign is often erected to that effect. 


This past July a man walking his dog in the Timrat area of Lower Galilee in Israel, noticed a large rock with some faint lines etched on it.  Upon closer inspection he could make out three letters.  At first he thought they spelled the word ש כ ח  - forget, although he was puzzled why someone would carve this word on a stone.  After discussing it with a neighbor, they concluded it probably said ש ב ת  - Shabbat.



The two men returned to the rock, eager to see if they were right.  They filled in the carved letters with soil, and saw this:



 Who put this stone here, why, and when?


[1] It should be noted that the municipal designations of where a city begins or ends has no bearings on this Halachah. Halachah designates any contiguously populated area as a single city, and a large unpopulated area, even if according to Google Maps it is plunk in the middle of a city, is considered outside the city’s borders. (The specifics of how many residences are needed in order to constitute a city, and what type of structures qualify as residences, are very complex. A rabbi should be consulted in case of actual question.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Goodbye National Jewish Retreat! See You Next Year!

Today was the last day of the Retreat! While it's sad that it's all over (and personally I feel like I'm going to need a large crane to haul me out of here after all of that food), it’s clear that the learning made an indelible mark on everyone who was there, and the power of Jews coming together for five days of remarkable study in unity has infused a tremendous energy into the Jewish people.

As Rabbi Mintz, Director of JLI, so aptly said last night after Shabbat, a Retreat participant once compared the retreat to a stationary cruise. It might even be compared with the first cruise in history: Noah’s Ark. Noah actually had it made in the ark; he had a lofty spiritual experience, surrounded by his family, secluded from the rest of the world. And when it came time, Noah did not want to leave this haven to embark upon a new world - the real world.

G-d told Noah, Leave the ark. Go take everything you’ve soaked up and saturate the world with knowledge of G-d. For everyone who loved the retreat, it’s now time to go back to our communities and infuse them with the knowledge and vitality that we have been so fortunate to have internalized over these past five days.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at next year’s National Jewish Retreat, which will G-d willing be in Jerusalem with our righteous Moshiach!

Over 700 National Jewish Retreaters Celebrate Shabbat

Imagine spending Shabbat with over 700 other Jews! There’s nothing like it. It was indeed a revitalizing, inspirational, and uplifting occasion for all in attendance.

In the morning, Rabbis Mendel Kaplan and Dovid Eliezrie presented mind-expanding classes about this week’s Torah portion through the lens of Chassidic thought, which opened our minds and hearts to be able to soak in the transformative Shabbat experience which lay ahead.

Retreaters congregated in the Sun Court for Shabbat morning services, led by cantor extraordinaire, Rabbi Levke Kaplan. Praying with so many other Jews truly touched people in a deep way, and the room practically vibrated with energy when we all rose in song together. Rabbi Yitzchak Shochet’s sermon challenged everyone to go out of their comfort zones to help Jews around them who are thirsting for meaning to see the joy and beauty of Judaism in an age where many are not informed about their Jewish roots.

After a beautiful “light” Kiddush (featuring a sushi bar, meat carving stations, and a variety of elegant nosh to boot), there were workshops held, to give everyone a chance to digest - both physically and spiritually.

Rabbi Yosef Susterman, a prominent Rav well-known in the Chabad community, taught about the laws of Shabbat (Can I play Scrabble? Rollerblade? Take a shower? Wind a watch? Open a box of cereal? He covered these questions and more.)

Renowned Chassidic scholar and lecturer Rabbi Manis Friedman spoke about “How to Stay Inspired” and Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman enlightened us to how unprecedented developments in science and medicine present unique moral and halachic dilemmas: issues of maternity, animal-human combinations, population genetics, and new frontiers in the understanding the coma and the persistence vegetative state.

During a delicious lunch, Gani Goodman, director of JLI teens, spoke about her personal journey from a tree-hugging, peace-rallying hippie to an observant Jew, and what inspired her from a young age to be a “revolutionary.” She cited two dictionary definitions of a revolution. 1: a sudden change, and 2: a course, as in an orbit, back to a starting point. Indeed, both of these definitions epitomized her journey; she changed her life, but in doing so came back to her true self.

Another smorgasbord of stimulating and heartwarming lectures followed, leading into yet another meal - seudah shlishit, with a lecture by Rabbi Manis Friedman on the Art of Storytelling.

A breathtaking havdala service - 700 Jews gathered together to escort the Shabbat Queen - was a climactic moment of the entire retreat. Guitar and singing and smiles abounded.

The evening featured a hilarious, knee-slapping comedy show by Nickelodean’s Marc Weiner, who entertained with a hilarious spoof on the often bizarre world of Jewish marriage and dating.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Retreat! It’s going to be so hard to say goodbye!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 3 is a Hit at the NJR!

Another fantastic, inspiring, food- and fun-filled day at the National Jewish Retreat!

The early birds enjoyed early morning Jewish meditation (for women) and Chassidut sessions, which revitalized all in attendance for the packed day of learning ahead.

A lavish breakfast, as usual, was followed by an array of stimulating workshops that had participants wishing they could be many places at the same time.

Some highlights of the morning included: “The Kosher Pig” by Yitzchok Shochet (Will the pig be kosher in the Messianic Era?), “Age of the Universe: Cosmology vs. Torah” by Prof Alex Poltorak (How do we reconcile modern cosmological and traditional Torah calculations of the age of the universe?), “Life as Art: Lessons on Living from the Artistic Process” by Shimona Tzukernik (What can we learn about Divine service from our core desire to create?), and “Homosexuality and the Jewish Community” by Bronya Shaffer (What issues does it raise, and how can we respond wisely and compassionately?), which spurred much open discussion and debate.

Distinguished guest David Nesenoff was honored at lunchtime. Nesenoff gained national attention in June 2010 when he posted to his website a video he had made of columnist Helen Thomas making outrageous statements about Jews and Israel. Over the next several days, the video went viral. Thomas resigned her job over this, and Nesenoff received over 25,000 pieces of hate mail, including several death threats. Nesenoff gave a both powerful and hilarious talk after lunch recounting his story, a series of twists and turns of events in which the Lubavitcher Rebbe played a surprisingly crucial role. Look out for it on TorahCafe.com!

A beautiful dinner banquet was held, featuring a presentation for the George Rohr JLI Teen of the Year award to two friends, Silvi and Michael. Their journeys crossed as they both decided to join a JLI teens course, which ended up changing their lives. It gave them a forum to ask questions about Judaism and have an open forum of discussion with peers going through the same struggles. As Michael said, it helped him to feel his connection to G-d in a real way, not just go through the motions.

Dennis Prager, national syndicated radio talk show host and author of numerous influential books about Judaism, gave the keynote address on the Centrality of Learning in Jewish Life. He spoke candidly about how his personal connection to G-d comes not from prayer, but from studying the Torah and Jewish law, and stressed that in Judaism it’s the deed that matters, not the thought or intention. To paraphrase: We can’t just follow our hearts, because they don't always lead us in the right direction. We must learn how to be good people. And for that we need the Divine wisdom of the Torah.

The day ended with a ROCKING concert by chassidic superstar Mordechai Ben David, which had the whole house dancing into the night!

More to come after Shabbos! Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Retreat: Day Two

The first full day of the retreat was packed from beginning to end with more incredible classes, guests, food, and conversation! The day became even more boistrous and exciting with the arrival of the Sinai Scholars, a super hip young crowd of 150 current and former college students from around the world.

Here are some highlights of the day:
Many retreaters woke up bright and early to attend beginners’ services (for men and for women), designed to help those who usually feel alienated by fast-paced Hebrew texts gain insight into the basics of talking to G-d. Judging by the faces of those leaving the room, it was an uplifting and transformational experience!

A delicious and beautiful breakfast spread awaited everyone who walked into the ballroom this morning, complete with a smoothie bar (I tried my first avocado smoothie - yum!), a bar with omlettes made-to-order, waffle stations, bagels, pastries, spreads, and more! Gotta be well fed for a day of learning!

The one complaint I heard again and again all day was how it was so hard to choose from the workshops and lectures that were conducted simultaneously. Widely sought-after presenters included David Gelernter, Professor of Computer Science at Yale; Rabbi Simon Jacobson, director of the Meaningful Life Center; Jonathan Sarna, Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis;  Yehoshua November, an award-winning poet; Dr. Alexander Poltorak of General Patent Corporation; and Dr. Jon Greenberg, agronomist and biblical botanist, who supplemented his workshop with an olive-tasting. The list just doesn’t end!

Dinner was delicious and diverse. An exotic journey of ethnic foods took us all around the world. With separate buffets for  Salonica, Greece; Rome, Italy; Casablanca, Moroccan; Paris, France, and the Lower East Side of New York. You can see the full menu at jretreat.com/menu. What a journey!

After dinner, Avraham Cohen shared an inspiring and heart-wrenching presentation about his brother, famous Israel spy, Eli Cohen. Eli, an Egyptian born Jew, successfully entered the upper echelons of the Syrian government as a double agent, obtaining secrets that proved crucial in the victory of Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Tragically, he was eventually discovered and killed. As one retreater tweeted, “I just learned the real meaning of a hero.”  Read more about the story of Eli Cohen here,  Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

National Jewish Retreat Beings with a Bang

The long-anticipated 6th annual National Jewish Retreat has finally arrived! 

My name is Chava, and I’ll be guest-blogging about some of the fun, exciting and inspirational happenings here at the Retreat.

This afternoon, I watched as retreat participants began to flood into the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, Connecticut, excitedly awaiting a packed schedule of classes by world-renowned Jewish speakers and educators, topped off with the best in gourmet Kosher food and entertainment.

After 300 retreaters bonded over a scrumptious BBQ dinner (seriously, a grill-lover’s dream. The spicy fries were my personal favorite), participants split up into groups for some ice-breakers and community building exercises that had participants sharing their ideas of the vital ingredients to building Jewish community.

The two kick-off workshops followed: One was about the mystery of the red string (Superstition, or Reality?) and the “evil eye” in Judaism, taught by Mrs. Rivka Slonim. The other was a first-hand account by Detective Mordechai Dzikansky, who spent 25 years with the NYC Police Department and was later stationed in Israel to gather intelligence on terrorism as the first NYPD Intelligence Division Overseas Liaison. He gave a fascinating talk on current terror trends and ways that we can respond to and prevent terrorism.

I spoke to some of the retreaters as they came out of the classes, and it was energizing to see the enthusiasm of learning spilling out into the lobby as people continued chatting among themselves about what they’d just heard.

I spoke to one young woman who shared with me something that struck her about Mrs. Slonim’s talk on the idea of the “evil eye” in Judaism. “I thought it was so interesting that with just a jealous thought or glance we can affect how a person is judged by G-d -- with unbounded mercy or with strict justice.” she said. “It’s a big responsibility, to train ourselves to cut jealous thoughts out, to share in others’ joy and see them in a positive light. As Mrs. Slonim said, we have our hands on the valves of these energies that flow our way. If we are modest in how we present to others, and see everyone with a good eye, it really has a positive effect on us and everyone around us.”

More great insights and updates to come! Can’t wait for Day 2 - more great classes, food, and participants arriving!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Who was Chuldah? Mystery Resolved

[7] Otzar Hamedrashim (Eizenstein)

Chuldah, one of seven prophetesses listed in the Scriptures,[1]  lived in the Mishneh quarter of Jerusalem.  She would sit in prophesy between the Temple’s two busiest gates, at the southern side of the mount. 
Chuldah sat in the area between the double gate and the triple gate, near the large platform

But Childah's connection with King Josiah goes back to his childhood.  When Josiah came to the throne as an orphan of eight years old, Chuldah and her husband Shalum took care of him, with Shalum acting as one of the king’s advisors, along with Chuldah’s kinsman, the prophet Jeremiah.[2]  And it was in Shalum’s merit that Chuldah began to prophesy.[3]
Shalum would sit at the entrance to Jerusalem, laden with bags of water, serving all who passed by.  In response to this outpouring of care for others, G-d rested His Divine Spirit upon Shalum's wife Chuldah, a woman of great faith, moral character, and Torah knowledge.[4] 


Why did Josiah choose to consult Chuldah instead of the main prophet of the time, Jeremiah?  One of the reasons the Talmud[6] offers for Josiah's preference of Chuldah is that “women are more compassionate than men.”   Seeking some note of comfort from the harsh verses, Josiah turned to the woman who raised him.  As a prophet, Chuldah had no choice but to tell him the truth – there would be destruction.  But she also told Josiah that his devotion to G-d had not gone unnoticed, and that he would not have to witness the fulfillment of this tragic prophesy.
 
More importantly, Chuldah encouraged Josiah to continue his efforts to eradicate idolatry from his kingdom.  Inspired, the king called together his entire nation to the Holy Temple.  He read for them the words of Divine warning, and they renewed their commitment to serve G-d with their whole heart and soul.


While as a rule, no one is buried in Jerusalem, Chuldah (along with King David) is the exception.  There is a Midrash that gives us an inkling of Chuldah’s greatness, stating that her soul dwells in the fourth of seven levels of Paradise, crowned with diadem of light.[7]


 

[1] The others were Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Chana, Avigail, and Esther.
[2] Other teachers included Hilkiyah the High Priest, the Prophet Jeremiah, and Shafan the Scribe.  Shalum later served as Keeper of the Robes.
[3] Chuldah’s great-grandmother is another interesting woman, Rachav.  This Canaanite inn-keeper helped the Jews conquer the Land of Israel, converted to Judaism, and married Joshua.  Among their descendents are Chuldah, Shalum, and King Josiah. 
[4] These are qualities Maimonides says are prerequisites for receiving prophecy.
[5] He might have gone home to Anatoth.  Another opinion has him traveling to Assyria to bring hope and encouragement to the Ten Tribes held captive there.
[6] Megilah 14b

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Who was Chuldah? The Mystery Deepens

Under the midnight moon, Chilkiyah the High Priest discovered some sort of bundle hidden under the Temple courtyard.  He unwrapped it to find a scroll written in Moses’ hand.  Opening the scroll, he saw that it was rolled to the Verses of Rebuke: “Cursed is he who does not uphold the words of this Torah to do them” (Deuteronomy 27:26).   Was this a message from G-d? 


Chilkiyah gave the rescued scroll to Shafan the Scribe, who brought it to the king.  Shafan read the verses to the king. “G-d will lead you and the king you have chosen to a nation unknown to you and your ancestors  (Deuteronomy 28:36).
Hearing these frightening words, King Josiah tore his clothes in mourning and urged Chilkiyah and a number of courtiers to “inquire of G-d on my behalf and on behalf of the people, and all of Judah…”  The king feared the passage was a message of G-dly displeasure over the idolatry and evil of the preceding generations.
The king’s messengers approached Chuldah the Prophetess, wife of Shalum the Keeper of the King's Wardrobe.  Chuldah relayed G-d’s word to them, “Tell the man who sent you, I will bring disaster on this place and its inhabitants, as is written in this scroll which the king of Judah has read."  With this foreknowledge, King Josiah hid many of the Temple’s sacred vessels, among them the Holy Ark, in a secret underground chamber constructed centuries before by King Solomon.
Who was Chuldah, and why did the king seek her prophecy instead of Jeremiah’s?  Was her grim foretelling what Josiah had expected?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who was Chuldah?

Come travel with me into the distant past.  The year is 3303 (458 BCE) and we are in Jerusalem.  King Josiah is in his 18th year on the throne of Judah.  The kingdom of the Ten Tribes hasn’t existed for almost 100 years.  For the past five years the prophet Jeremiah has been prophesying in the streets and marketplaces, speaking to anyone who will listen, making every effort to return the Jews to G-d and Torah.  Two other prophets live then, too: Zefaniah, who prophesies to a (perhaps) more receptive crowd in the synagogues and study halls, and Chuldah, who has a school for women in Jerusalem, where she connects Jewish mothers and daughters with their Father in Heaven.[1]
Series from Israel Post, 1984, Women of the Bible
Chuldah is on the far left

Josiah had come to power as an eight year-old boy, following the murder of his father, Amon, a corrupt and idolatrous king, by his own servants.  King Josiah now sets in motion an intense campaign to cleanse his kingdom of generations of idol-worship and evil. As part of this effort, he calls for the renovation and repair of the Holy Temple, which had been neglected for over 200 years.  The king gathers carpenters, builders and masons, drawing up plans and setting aside funds.
In the course of renovations, an amazing find comes to light – a Torah scroll written in Moses’ own hand.  This scroll had been hidden away by the priests for safekeeping during the reign of King Achaz (Josiah’s grandfather’s grandfather), who had burned every Torah scroll he could find.  Since then, the location of this precious scroll, once secret, had been forgotten.  What could its discovery now, mean?



[1] Pesikta Rabbati, ch. 26




 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Ninth of Av

Today is the Ninth of Av.  1,941 years ago the Second Temple was destroyed by Rome's forces.  2,434 years ago the First Temple was destroyed by Babylon's armies.  On this day of national mourning, as we think of what we lost and work to earn it back, let's not forget that the seeds of our redemption are embedded within this day.

Here's a sampling of links about the day and its message.
What happened on the Ninth of Av? - In addition to the destruction of our Temples, other tragedies occurred today.
Destruction Every Day - The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson gives a fiery talk about destruction and redemption
Responding to Catastrophe - How can we live with loss?
Mourning What is Missing - Awaiting the Temple's rebuilding with certainty.
In an ancient Jerusalem tunnel, objects from a 2,000-year-old war uncovered. - Artifacts from the war between Rome and Jerusalem.
Mourning, Memory, and Art - Images from artists' across the ages depict the destruction of Jerusalem
Western Wall Webcam - Toward late afternoon EST (late at night in Israel) you can see a chassidic group and their Rebbe observe a special post Tisha B'Av gathering.

Soldiers of the Golani Brigade barefoot in mourning at the Western Wall on 9 Av

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Approaching the Throne

My first view of the Western Wall – the Kotel – came when I traveled to Israel for school.  Shortly after arriving, we took a school trip to Mount Scopus and the Kotel.  From Mount Scopus we looked across the valley at the walls of Jerusalem, recited verses of mourning, and tore our shirts across our hearts, as one does for the death of a parent, G-d forbid. 

From there we ascended to the Kotel.  I knew that Primordial Adam was created from the dust of this mountain top; the binding of Isaac took place here; Jacob’s dream of a ladder with angels ascending and descending.  I could sing a dozen songs about the holiness of Jerusalem and the Kotel.  But my first thought on seeing the Wall was, That’s it?  It’s so small.  And just as quickly, I felt ashamed.  How could I fail to sense its holiness and sanctity? 
 

On every side women whispered in their mother tongues, cried out, swayed in prayer, engaging with G-d.  I laid my forehead against its stones, waiting for a rush of something  spiritual. But nothing came.  




As Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz explains, Kabbalah enumerates four elements that comprise the world: fire, air, water and earth.  Each of these correspond to one of the four letters of G-d’s Divine Name, yud-hei-vav-hei.  This quadratic structure extends to the Holy Temple itself, constructed of four main areas: the Temple Mount, the Courtyard, the Sanctuary, and the Holy of Holies. 

With the destruction of the Temple, our Sages sought to instill its entire essence into our prayers.  One of the ways they did so was by establishing a four part prayer, leading from praises of G-d to prayers before the Shema, to the Shema itself, and finally, the Amidah (silent devotional).  Each stage in prayer leads closer to the inmost throne.
One cannot jump from the palace gates to the throne room; there are antechambers and halls to pass through.  But once you’ve been admitted to the King’s presence you find your way back more easily the next time.

Over the course of that year I came to feel the holiness and power of the Kotel.  In repeated visits I inched my way forward to the throne room.  And by the time I left, I marveled at the vast height of the Wall.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Nine Days

Today is the 1st of the Jewish month of Av.  It begins a period of time known as “The Nine Days.” These days lead us to the 9th of Av, when the Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed; the first by Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar, the second by Rome’s Titus.
Arch of Titus, Rome
The Code of Jewish Law dictates that we observe various signs of mourning during these days, akin to the way a mourner marks the death of a close relative.  What is the meaning behind these abstentions?
When one spouse betrays the other, the fabric of their relationship is torn. Some couples will respond by beginning the wrenching task of seeing what went wrong so they can attend  to the damage, while others will  attempt to avoid the pain of what has occurred, turning away from it and living around it. 
The tenor of the years that follow will depend on their choices.  If the rent is mended by careful and attentive re-weaving, the relationship will survive.  Even more, the formerly weak spot will be stronger from its reinforcement.   Looking back they will see that this moment was a turning point when they transformed potential tragedy to joy.
But if they ignore the tear, the few broken threads will multiply, the gap will widen, and with every reminder of the betrayal, they will be overwhelmed by fresh pain and isolation.

 Judaism does not dwell on sorrow, nor does it elevate suffering into a holy experience.  But as we approach that day when the fabric of our relationship with G-d was torn asunder, we must ask, are we still circling the tear?  So long as we have not rebuilt the Temple, our relationship with G-d is not completely healed.
Our mourning during these days is purposeful and is not meant to remain despondent and despairing.  Feeling pain is a cue that something is wrong.   Once we’ve determined the dysfunction, our focus should be directed toward reweaving the torn threads into whole cloth, restoring health to our relationship with G-d.