Messages from Rabbi Russo

August 12, 2016 - 8 Av

We are on the brink of many transitions.  We are beginning a new book of Torah this week, Deuteronomy, which will carry us through the end of the Jewish year. In the Jewish calendar we are preparing for the end of 5776 and the beginning of 5777.  The High Holy Days feel just around the corner.  Many of the camps are concluding as we transition back into school and work (for those of us who have the summer off).  Some of us cannot wait for the change of seasons when we can get a little respite from the humidity of summer.  This reminds us that some transitions are easier than others.
This Shabbat we face another transition as we immediately move from the end of Shabbat into the somber holiday of Tisha B'Av.  Since the 9th of Av falls on Shabbat this year, we barely have time to go from one holiday into the next.  How does our tradition help us with this immediate change?  Shabbat is joyful and Tisha B'Av commemorates the destructions of the Temples.  In Havdalah, the ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat, we do the blessings a little differently to honor the very different mood of Tisha B'Av.   
During Havdalah, we usually bless the wine, the spices, the light of the candle, and going from the holiness of Shabbat into a regular week.  Since we fast on Tisha B'Av, we do not bless and drink the wine until Sunday night.  We still light the candle and this is the only blessing recited during Havdalah on Saturday night.  We do not bless the spices as we are not entering a sweet time.  The last blessing, honoring the transition from holiness to the mundane, is also postponed until Sunday night.  
This tradition reminds us that we need rituals to help us ease into transitions.  Last week we prepared for a new book of Torah with the words, "Hazak, Hazak, v'Nithazek" - Be strong, be strong, and you will be strengthened. This week we alter Havdalah to honor Tisha B'Av.  Whatever changes we have coming up in our Jewish and secular lives, rituals and blessings can help us navigate them with intention.  I am happy to speak to anyone about rituals and blessings that can ease transitions.
Shabbat Shalom