The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight.
“One sees the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the check tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain.”
Albert Camus’ description of Sisyphus’ curse rings in my ears each year on Tisha B’Av. We have climbed great peaks: We left Egypt a nation of slaves, struggled up the mountain of Sinai, only to let the rock roll down the slope because of the spies. We pushed our way up again and we entered Israel. We fought. We pushed our bodies against the weight of the great stone, but we achieved the summit. The land was ours and we built the Temple. But, its place was not secure and we allowed the stone to roll down the mountain and crush the Temple and the land. We pushed up again when we returned from Babylon. We pushed up toward the summit again in Spain, and again in German, and yet again in Iran and all over the world.
On Tisha B’Av we stand at the peak and watch that great stone of our achievements roll down, and down again and yet again, each historical 9th of Av.
As Camus points out, Sisyphus’s heroism is in that moment when he turns around after his long struggle up the mountain, feels the stone slip from his grasp and roll all the way down, and he leaves the heights and gradually goes down the slope to begin his efforts yet again.
Our heroism is in the moment after we have seen the repeated fall of the stone and we simply turn around and begin again, determined that this time we will not be Sisyphus. This time we will achieve Nachamu – We will hear God reach out to comfort us and assure us that our suffering is over.
The Foundation Stone honors your heroic efforts with the Haftarah of Tisha B’Av: Waves of Tears, Fast Day Haftarah: Love Beyond Understanding, and theFirst of the Seven Haftarot of Consolation: System. We hope that all our offerings, Rabbi Chaim Goldberger’s Voice of Torah, Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg’s The Torah Connection, the Heileger Chana Chaya’s Life Lessons – I Will Wait For You , El-Ad’s Na’aseh V’Nishmah: The Third Time’s The Charm, andBentzion of Medziboz’s Stories of the Baal Shem Tov and Keter Shem Tov, will enhance your dreams. We are honored to present Yaacov Dovid Shulman’swritings : Secrets of Successful Prayer, Rav Kook’s Poetry & The Shining Spirit of Israel. Fresh insights are available daily on our Blog.You will find more than two pages of short insights into Kinot, Lamentations, Tisha B’Av, Prayer & More.
Rolling up my sleeves, ready to start pushing even higher, I wish all a
Productive & Meaningful Fast and Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg