Friday, August 12, 2011
Did you choose to each breakfast today? Perhaps if you were running late you might have skipped breakfast or maybe grabbed a quick bite. Most of us do not give too much thought to when we will be eating next. Two days ago a preschool teacher by the name of Pamela Salant was rescued after surviving a fall from a cliff and three nights exposure in the
She had been hiking and accidentally fell off of a cliff. Breaking her leg and fracturing her back she survived by drinking water from a river, eating berries, grapes and sampling a slug.
I cannot imagine being so hungry as to needing to eat a slug. Never have I been without food for that long. Never have I been at such a low point in my life.
The day that Pamela Salant was rescued is a sacred day in the Jewish calendar. It is the 9th day of Hebrew month of Av. For over 2,500 years it has been marked as a day of great loss and sorrow. A fast, penitential prayers and reading the Biblical scroll of Lamentations are the chief observance of this commemoration which marks the destruction of the
Temple and the forced deportation of the Jewish people out of its ancestral homeland into Babylonia (and throughout the Roman expire during the second destruction 650 years later on the exact same day).
For centuries millions of Jewish people have spoken of, studied about and attempted to observe this perplexing day. Voluntarily, Jews forego all food and water for 24 hours in order to appreciate the suffering of those Jews who fought a vastly superior military force and who died attempting to remain free in their own land. The despair for all those Jews during the first conquest by Babylonia in 586 BCE and the second conquest by ancient
in 70 CE must have been beyond description. That ultimate despair led to collective shared memory for Jewish people down through the ages. Rome
I have never faced true despair, nor have I ever anticipated my own death from starvation or great injury. Pamela Salant overcame a moment in crisis. She will be forever changed. Perhaps the goal of Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av) is to remind us all that we can never truly know how far we will go until there is no possible alternative. But survival is key.
I pray that none of us ever has to reach that point.