This week in Overland Park, KS, we experienced a thoroughly damaging Thunderstorm, the aftermath of which caused temporary and prolonged blackouts for many. For over 3 days, some in the community went without air conditioning, refrigeration, and internet. Now, upon reflection, we ask ourselves: What can we learn from this experience, particularly in the midst of these mournful nine days of Av?
Of course, each person extracts their own lessons, but perhaps Parshat Devarim this week provides an intriguing parallel. After recounting how the spies sinfully critiqued the plan to conquer Israel, Moshe recalls the “repentant” group. These men were determined to show their newfound commitment towards conquering the land -after realizing their wrongdoing. The only problem: they no longer had that ability. The entire premise of the conquest was Hashem’s aide, without which they remained vulnerable and inevitably weak… powerless.
It is with this in mind that we can recall our own helplessness, even with the relatively mild discomforts of not having access to our usual luxuries. Like this group in the parsha, we may have tried going through our normal routine, but it just wasn’t the same. The immediacy and unexpectedness of the outage fueled that feeling of discomfort and vulnerability. In one day, one went from saving Shabbos leftovers to transferring them into someone else’s freezer.
But there are other discomforts which are harder to feel- those which began hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. As time continues, we unfortunately feel less and less uncomfortable. But the task is to remind ourselves of that feeling of powerlessness, to regain that vulnerable discomfort. Although the Temples were destroyed years ago, we re-initiate that pain once a year on Tisha Bav, making sure not to forget that we should still feel uncomfortable. Thank G-d, it seems like we’ve all gotten back our electricity, but this Tuesday we remember- we’re still missing our Power Source.