The name Tamuz comes from the name of an idol and a pagan practice. On the Solstice, the worshippers of Tamuz would heat the idol with fire to create an illusion of tears. This practice would cause the onlookers to cry for their own loss at the end of summer, a collective grief ritual. Though this ritual is not one that the Jewish people practice, on the 17th of Tamuz we begin our own 3 week period of mourning where we are encouraged to look inward and tap into our deepest suffering both individual and communal and maybe even shed some tears. We take on certain mourning practices and refrain from participating in joyous activities (no live music, no weddings, no travel etc) in order to create the space to feel pain. Sometimes it is helpful to make changes in the physical world in order to process changes in the emotional realm. And yet through all of the tears, we remember that just as the moon renews itself, so too will we be renewed. Just as the days get long again, so too will our days get brighter. Just as we once had a temple, so too will we witness another. As we read in Psalm 30, "You turn my mourning into dancing."
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