Three Weeks


It is written that King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 10th century BCE. It stood for about four centuries before being destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BCE. After the Hebrew exiles returned from Babylon in 539 BCE, they built the Second Temple, which lasted over 500 years before being destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. According to tradition both were destroyed at this time of the year, called the Three Weeks (17 Tammuz – 9 Av on the Hebrew calendar). Every year we observe the Three Weeks as a time of mourning and solemn reflection.

In ancient times the rabbis reflected on the question: what are we to learn from the destruction of the Temples? Their inquiry took them to two themes: what we value, and how we treat each other.



Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 9B:

The First Temple, why was it destroyed? For three things within it: idol worship, sexual transgression, and bloodshed.
 
 

But the Second Temple, where they were immersed in Torah, mitzvot, and acts of lovingkindness, why was it destroyed? Because there was senseless hatred. This comes to teach that the weight of senseless hatred is equivalent [to the total of all the other three].
(Oral tradition committed to writing around 5th century CE)


 
This year with the Three Weeks falling on June 30 – July 21, I’ve been reflecting on events in the U.S. today. A national government that no longer represents the majority of its citizens, wantonly engaging in senseless hatred, cruelty, destructiveness.

In the U.S. our “holy temple” has been in the values and ideals of American democracy. Although we’ve been painfully slow to live up to these ideals, they’ve always served as the guiding light that unites us, and toward which we, the American people, aspire and progress. But today my heart is breaking as I stand by helplessly, forced to watch the daily destruction of our democracy.

Is this the “Three Weeks” for America? Am I exaggerating? Can we still save our country?

Soon I’ll be joining with thousands of Americans in California and across the country to do what we can to help save our democracy by helping people vote in the coming election. But for now I’m sitting quietly with the question: what can we learn from the Three Weeks about the right course of action for today?


Ibn Ezra commenting on Leviticus 19:17:

“Don’t hate your brother.”

This is the inverse of “love your neighbor as yourself.” Behold how these mitzvot, both of them, are planted in the heart. And those who cultivate them shall remain in the land. Because it was senseless hatred that destroyed the Second Temple.
(Spain, 12th century CE)



Rav Kook

Since we destroyed ourselves and the world through senseless hatred, then surely we can restore ourselves and the world through senseless love.
Orot Hakodesh (Holy Lights), Israel, 1938


Rabbi DovBer Pinson:
[The Three Weeks] is a harsh time to be sure, a time of Din / judgment, yet despite this, or perhaps because of this, it is also a time where we can more easily feel close to [God]…. It becomes clear that all of our sufferings are meant to wake us up to our higher self and purpose, if we but heed the call.
(The Months of Tammuz and Av, U.S., 2018)


Breslover Hassidim
Senseless love is good for the world!
(20th century)

Apr. 29 Global Wisdom Circle

Apr. 29 Global Wisdom Circle:
Paula Green

Sharing wisdom, experience and support
among global citizens everywhere.

Building Bridges Across the Hills

Paula Green, Ph.D. — psychologist, peace educator, facilitator, and mentor in the field of intergroup relations and conflict resolution — is co-creator, together with other residents of her hometown of Leverett MA, of Hands Across the Hills, a cultural exchange/dialogue between people in western Massachusetts and coal country in Kentucky.

After the 2016 presidential election, as the U.S. descended into a state of greater polaritzation, distrust, and animosity among Americans based on their political affiliation, Paula felt moved to increase her focus on restoring relations between Americans across the divides.

As they’ve discovered a sister community across the political divide, in another part of the U.S., where people are ready to join with them, Paula and her neighbors in Leverett are literally reaching out their Hands Across the Hills. Through this program, Paula now consults with and mentors other communities that hope to bridge divides in their own cities or elsewhere in the country.


Their partners in Letcher County, KY have come together under the auspices of the Letcher County Culture Hub, a network of community-led organizations that work together to build a culture and economy where people own what they make. Ben Fink, lead organizer for the group in Kentucky, also organizes projects for Appalshop, the Appalachian arts and culture institution that was recently featured on the PBS Hews Hour.



You can learn more about Paula, Ben, and their communities, at Hands Across the Hills.


Part 1 — Paula Green & Sharon Dunn: Group interview

Part 2 — Circle of reflection: Stewart Gill, Libby Traubman, Wendy Berk, Aryae, Stewart, Rita Karuna Cahn

Part 3 — Further comments & reflections: Sharon, Paula, Stewart, Aryae, Len Traubman



Dec. 10 Spiritual Travelers Circle

Dec. 10 Spiritual Travelers Circle:
Rev. Charles Gibbs

Spiritual travelers
from all backgrounds and traditions,
sharing experience — seeking wisdom.

Spirit and Action in the World Today

The Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs is an Episcopal priest, a visionary and a poet who has dedicated his life to serving the sacred in the world, especially through interreligious and intercultural engagement. His new volume of poetry – Light Reading: Selected Poems from a Pilgrim Journey – is available at Amazon.com.

Charles recently became Senior Partner and Poet-in-Residence for the Catalyst for Peace Foundation, providing leadership and support for CFP’s organizational evolution. Building on its eight-year transformational partnership with Fambul Tok in Sierra Leone, CFP is exploring a new phase of regional and global engagement focused on community-based peacebuilding, healthy whole systems partnerships and leadership development.

From 1996 until his retirement in 2013, he served as the founding executive director of the United Religions Initiative (www.uri.org). As executive director, he worked with thousands of colleagues around the world to guide URI’s growth from a vision to becoming the world’s largest grassroots interfaith network.


We invited Charles to initiate a conversation about a recipe for spiritual well-being — and actions that can bring light, love and healing — in today’s troubled world.


Part 1 — Opening check-ins

Part 2 — Group interview: Rev. Charles Gibbs

Part 3 — Circle of reflection: Charles, Len Traubman, Bob Whitehair, Libby Traubman, Teri Whitehair, James Offuh, Wendy Berk, Rev. Susan Strouse, Aryae, Bonita Banducci, Rabbi Victor Gross

Part 4 — Further reflections by Charles, and closing check-ins



May 21 Interfaith Spiritual Travelers Circle

May 21 Interfaith Spiritual Travelers Circle:
Kaylynn Sullivan Two Trees

Spiritual travelers
from all backgrounds and traditions,
sharing experience — seeking wisdom.

Guidance from Ancestors
At a time when so much of civilization as we’ve known it seems on the brink of crisis and transformation, what can we learn from listening to the voices of our indigenous ancestors who lived close to the earth? How can we tune in to their wisdom for guidance through perilous times?
 


Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees has spent a life “at the crossroads where species, cultures, beliefs and the unknown collide and find both dissonance and resonance. I am most comfortable with those explorers and cartographers whose passion and life is the crossroads. There, at any given moment, what is magic and what is real shifts places depending on where I stand.”

Two Trees focuses her work, as an artist/catalyst, on re-orienting to indigenous mind and regenerating an essential relationship with Earth wisdom. She is past recipient of the Lila Wallace International Artist Award and her work has been exhibited and is in collections in the US, Europe and New Zealand. She continues to find passion, renewal and nourishment from all of the Earth’s expressions.

She is currently Artist in Residence at the University of Vermont, and a member of the Leadership Team in the Sustainability Masters Program as well as a current Whistenon Public Scholar at the Kettering Foundation.


Part 1 — Opening check-ins

Part 2 — Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees: Guidance from Ancestors

Part 3 — Seed Question

Part 4 — Circle of reflection: Debra Roberts, Libby Traubman, Jerry Green, Len Traubman, Jed Davis, Xiaojuan Shu, Wendy Berk, Aryae

Part 5 — Additional reflections: TwoTrees, Jeb, Debra, Wendy, Aryae

Part 6 — Closing check-ins


April 23 OWL Global Wisdom Circle

April 23 OWL Global Wisdom Circle:
Trish Sewe

A monthly video-circle for sharing wisdom, experience and support among global citizens everywhere.

Empowering Youth & Saving Wildlife in Kenya

In an environment that has been plagued by corruption, tribalism, insecurity, and unemployment, what does it take to inspire young people to dedicate themselves to building a positive future for themselves and their country? And in response to the relentless human slaughter of wildlife, what does it take to build a positive future for endangered animals?


Trish Sewe, who lives in Nairobi, Kenya, is passionate about two things: Kenya’s youth, and Kenya’s wild animals. In 2015 she founded MimiNiChange, which aims to inspire and unite Kenyan youth and young adults — regardless of age, class, education, gender, political affiliation, race, religion, status or tribe — to shun tribalism, speak with one voice, and take charge of their own destinies as empowered leaders.

Trish works as a Communications Manager at WildlifeDirect, a non-profit focused on justice for wildlife, which runs legal, community, education & outreach projects, and a TV program, that aim to change hearts, minds and laws. WildlifeDirect holds a unique role in Kenya’s wildlife conservation efforts, having been widely recognized for its singular successes in engaging the people of Kenya to support the protection of elephants.

Trish holds an M.A. in International Studies, and a B.A. in Communication & Sociology, from the University of Nairobi.

More about Trish at her Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.


Part 1 — Opening check-ins

Part 2 — Trish Sewe: Empowering Youth & Saving Wildlife in Kenya

Part 3 — Trish: Question for reflection

Part 4 — Circle of reflection: Libby Traubman, Bonita Banducci, Wendy Berk, Sue Henken-Haas, Annne Veh, James Offuh, Len Traubman, Bradley Stoll, Steve Karlin, Aryae

Part 5 — Trish: Closing reflections

Part 6 — Closing check-ins