“How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow…She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks. (Book of Lamentations, chapter 1)
Tonight, as is the case every year, tens of thousands of mourners will head to the Western Wall plaza. Wearing simple clothes, barefoot and sporting bristles, they will sit down on the cold stone floor and lament the destruction of a Temple they had never seen, with tears flowing on their cheeks.
This is a unique kind of mourning, one that has no equal in the world. Where else can we see a people that experiences with such great strength something that happened to its forefathers some 2,000 years ago?
However, the sorrow over the destruction is not historical. No sorrow is more contemporary. The Jewish people mourns the Temple’s destruction as a symbol of the destruction we experience every single day.
The Jewish people weeps over the Diaspora experience, the distance, and the inability to fulfill the great mission it assumed at ancient times. Through the Temple’s destruction we experience the great gap between the people we would like to be, as individuals and as a nation, and the people we manage to be, for the time being.
And so – not through mutual accusations, but rather, via unifying mourning – members of the Jewish people go back to the beginning of the road, to the grand dreams, to the vision and the way. This is how we examine our failures, express remorse, and gather the strength to again embark on the journey of Tikkun, of humanity and of the world.
The days of destruction and Tisha B’Av are marked in summer, in the midst of a long break. The education system is not there to familiarize our children with the ancient Jerusalem, the civil war and the terrible nature of the destruction prompted by it. This holy duty is born, as is the case every summer, on our shoulders.
If not the parents, who will recount the Jerusalemite wars that prompted the city’s and the Temple’s destruction? Who will be speaking about Kamtza and Bar Kamtza and about the needless hatred that burned everything?
Dear parents: Tisha B’Av is today. It is still not too late to leave work early, take your children and head to Jerusalem, to the Western Wall, the remnant of the Temple and symbol of the destruction; to sit there, barefoot, on the stone floor and direct a teary-eyed gaze at what we spoiled, based on deep faith that as of tomorrow, we shall again start to repair it. “All those who mourn Jerusalem will merit and see her rejoicing."
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch serves as Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites of Israel
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