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Acharei Mot. Mourning, Spring, Tikkoun

Today, Tenth day of the Omer. One week and three days.

The name of this week's parsha is heavy to bear: “acharei mot” means '“after death”. What happens after death, is the beginning of the time of mourning.

It may feel challenging to be mourning while nature is reborn.

Spring blooms in grace, the streets are fragrant with flowers, birds sing, humans begin to lie down on the lawns again...

And at the same time.

The war in Gaza and on the Lebanese border continues, the hostages are still there, the crowds continue to shout death of the country of the Jews, and now,  occupied Western campuses are banning access explicitely "to Jews", just like in the thirties in nazi Europe, with the silent assent of their authorities.

Yes, we are grieving a lot at the moment.

Grieving a belief we had in our  integration. Grieving a faith we had in “living together”. Grieving a certain admiration towards the great Western Universities. Grieving our trust in Institutions.

And then there is mourning actual death.

 We  just heard of the death of Dror Or, a hostage in Gaza, whose body has actually been detained since October 7. His two children, whose mother died on the spot, were just told, six months later, that they are orphans.

We  just heard of the death of Paul Auster, whose writing illuminated life.

Yes, I’m definitely  in a mourning state of mind.

So somewhere, it appeases me, to read today, in the heart of this week of “gevurah” (rigor), a parasha which begins “after death.”

Above all, reading the Mei HaShiloach consoles me, yet again.


As if he knew what we are seeing at the moment on the news, he reminds us of this realistic teaching of the Talmud (Nedarim 32 b )

  דְּבִשְׁעַת יֵצֶר הָרָע לֵית דְּמִדְּכַר לֵיהּ לְיֵצֶר טוֹב

“At a time when the Yetzer ha Ra reigns, no one remembers the Yetzer ha tov.

Did we forget about what goodness means?

So to fight against amnesia, we start by facing what is.

And what is, is, mixed with Spring, Mourning.

Such is the ethos of the Omer.

The joy of counting towards Shavuot is mixed, damaged by the memory of the scourge which had ravaged the community of Rabbi Akiva, so long ago.

Because of what? Sinat Hinam, “Free Hate.”

Yes, hatred is always free.

As the mother of one of the hostages, Hersch Goldberg Polin, said the day after the October Massacres: “hate is too easy.”

It  seems that we  learned nothing.

Neither since October, nor since Rabbi Akiva.

So, is  left for us to do?

Mourning is not enough.

Just like brokenness, it is an invitation to wake up.

The Hassidim believe that the Tikkun (repair) of the world comes through the tikkun of oneself.

Yes it is by working on ourselves, each of us, that we can perhaps repair the world.

This is the work that we are invited to do, in between Passover and Shavuot, each day when we count the Omer:

mussar (ethical discipline).

We do this by counting, sefirah after sefirah, midah (quality) after midah.

And we do it by reading the Pirke Avot, the oldest treatise on Jewish ethics. One day at a time.

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