rend (verb): to tear (the hair or clothing) as a sign of anger, grief, or despair - The Merriam-Webster Dictionary
It was quite a week. First a few, then a flood, on our social media feeds. #metoo #WhyIdidntreport. Each story unique, and also sickeningly familiar.
I was a freshman in college. I was fifteen. I was five. I was twelve the first time I was raped.
I was walking home from a party. He was my boyfriend. My uncle. The father of my friend.
I reported to the police, but they didn’t do anything. I thought it was my fault, My mother didn’t believe me. I was ashamed - it was 50 years ago, this is the first time I’ve told anyone.
The anger has overcome the grief and despair. Not seven sisters gathered to expose their hearts, but seventy times seven.
Don’t you dare disbelieve me. Don’t you dare blame me. Don’t you dare make excuses for him. Don’t you dare think any less of me. And don’t you dare treat me the way you’re treating her.
I am preparing to weave a tallit for a friend who will be celebrating her b’nai mitzvah in November. My usual practice would be to work in prayers of blessing and thanksgiving. But my heart is heavy. As I pick up each thread and pull it through the heddle, I think of the women - friends and strangers - whose stories I have read this week. I think of the familiar words of the psalmist: “He restores my soul.” So many souls to be restored. I say a prayer for restoration, for peace, and - dare I ask it! - justice.
Weaving is the opposite of rending. It is making something new and whole from all of the threads that go into it. And a prayer shawl isn’t made just for the joyful prayers, and the prayers of thanksgiving, but also for the prayers of anguish and “O Lord, from the depths of despair I cry for your help.”
It’s late, and tomorrow is another day. The psalmist also says “joy comes in the morning.” Lord, hear our prayer.