There are times of the year I feel we approach already feeling tired in advance. The 3 weeks is one of those time periods. We already know the script. We fast and mourn about the destruction and try to repair our baseless hatred, hope for the redemption to come and … we go on vacation! We ask ourselves every year, did anything inside us change during these somewhat heavy 3 weeks?
This is definitely one of the challenges of hoping for the redemption. To really wait for the Messiah who may come any day; to wait for him even though we waited yesterday and the day before and the week before. But this is on the surface. We must also believe that something in us changed internally and that keeping the laws of mourning of the 3 weeks simply has to have some influence on my soul and increased my spiritual sensitivity!
Last year when the 9th of Av ended we were in a situation closer to the final redemption than we were during the fast of the 17th of Tammuz 3 weeks before that. This year we’re back at the 17th of Tammuz seemingly in a circle back where we started but in reality it’s really a spiral so it looks like the same place but it’s really higher up the spiral. Our starting point this year is higher; our potential to reach the heights of spirituality and the depths of profundity is greater than a year ago after the 9th of Av.
In general, how do we hope for the redemption? In our modern times full of technology our waiting times have shrunk. We cross continents in hours and in a mere few seconds can heat up a meal… but we still have to wait impatiently for certain things like the traffic light to turn green, or waiting on line at the bank or doctor’s office. We can take advantage of those waiting times when we are impatient and just want it to be already and we can try to understand that this is how we should feel about the redemption… when will it happen already? We can hope for it and feel like we’re missing something and perhaps taste the longing for salvation. Tough times specifically when someone feels powerless or threatened can open the door to true longing for G-d’s salvation. Our sages describe the trying times before the final redemption: “We have no one to rely on but our Father in heaven.” (Sotah 49a)
As women, the hoping for salvation is engraved in the deep layers of our physical and spiritual lives. It is tied to our interpersonal relationships and to everything having to do with bringing new life into the world. Perhaps the first redemption from Egypt was because of the righteous women and the future redemption will also be because of them simply because no one better knows what longing is all about than a woman hoping and longing to give birth. Another example of the woman’s capacity to wait is the statement of Rav in the Talmud: “Through what will the women merit the next world; through waiting for their husbands to come home from the study hall.”
If we wait for the redemption we can already start to hear his footsteps approaching from all the prophecies that are happening before our very eyes. Next time we’re waiting impatiently in a traffic jam let’s fulfill the verse, “Lift your eyes around and see how all are gathering into you (Zion) and filling the Holy land. Perhaps when complaining about how long it takes for the bride and the groom to come out into the main hall we can hear the strains of the “sounds of the happiness and gladness, of the brides and the grooms that returned to the towns of Judah and the courtyards of Jerusalem.” And then we can long for the final redemption.