Today is Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av. Tisha B’Av is a day of remembrance of the First Temple and the Second Temple and the many times and actions against the Children of Israel throughout history from every corner of the Earth. In order to properly morn the losses and hardships, feel the pain of those generations and our brothers and sisters throughout some of the darkest of times in which a Jew could have lived, or merely to have survived and kept our faith despite the challenges, we fast and spend the day in prayer and read from the Book of Lamentations. We also project hope on this the saddest day of the year for a Jew. We hope that this will be the last Tisha B’Av because the Temple will be rebuilt and the Moshiach will have come and all suffering will have ended and the perfect age has at last come to be as a blessing. But this year not only do I have difficulty in projecting even the smallest glimmer of hope for the restoration of the Temple, I actually fear that the Temple could be built in this time when we, the Jewish People are not worthy to receive such an honor as we have yet to learn one of the lessons from the loss of one of our Holy Temples in Jerusalem and we also are not obeying some of the most basic laws of Torah which the L0rd our G0d expects from us.
The lack of Torah obedience is easy to see almost anywhere that you find Jewish communities. Many Jews walk around with their heads uncovered even though there is no threat to their health and being from wearing the Kippah honoring our covenant with G0d. Most Jews do not commit to their daily prayers, keep a kosher kitchen, or obey many of the six-hundred-thirteen commandments and too many cannot even keep the Ten Commandments, those commandments which really were written in stone. And the most disheartening lack shown by Jews is their resistance to outright refusal to fulfill the command to settle the Land of Israel, to take hold of and possess all of the lands which were the divine gift to our people. Not only do many refuse to do their part by returning to our homeland but some, even among those living within our blessed lands, actually work and use every weapon at hand to prevent those who wish to settle the lands, all the lands, from building their communities on any part of those lands. They must act to make all of Judea and Samaria and Benyamin with all of Jerusalem incorporated and an intricate part of Eretz Yisroel. But even this does not give me the most distress again this year.
Once again this year we find that the Jewish People are not yet worthy to receive or build the Third Temple. The reason we are not fit to build or receive the Third Temple is simply because we have yet to learn the lessons from the destruction of the first two Temples. We had the First Temple destroyed due to tossing our way and forgetting to do the commandments that are part of our obligations to our Divine Covenant. In simple words, we became a nation of sinners. The most egregious of our sins was falling into idolatry, the most heinous sin and insult of our L0rd through actions possible for a Jew to commit. It could be said that this sin still infects the Children of Israel in the form of those who show greater love and devotion to wealth, property, items, and what are simply the modern golden calves than they show appreciation, love, respect or obedience to the L0rd. But even this is something which can be rectified through a rededication of the Children of Israel. What about our other sin which caused the destruction of the Second Temple?
The destruction of the Second Temple was caused by the committing of the worst acts imaginable, we were guilty of Sinas Chinam, unfounded, spiteful, baseless hatreds of our fellow brothers and sisters. Holding those of the other tribes or even those from our own tribe up for spite, disparage, slander, and baseless accusations. For the hatred of ourselves we lost the Second Temple and faced the dispersion of our peoples to the far corners of the known world leading to two millennia of wandering lacking a permanent place to call home. It was during these two millennia when our brethren lived as if under the curse from Leviticus 26: 36-7 where it states, “I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them. They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them. So you will not be able to stand before your enemies.” The most frightening reality is that today we suffer from this horrific sin of Sinas Chinam. It can be witnessed towards those who are settling all of the lands, it is found between the separate factions especially of late between some who claim to be the exemplary learners and studiers of Torah, and in more manners than one can easily count between many who remain in the Diaspora. We are infected with Sinas Chinam from every conceivable source, through politics, Torah observance, who and how one should contribute and serve for the nations of Israel’s defense, acceptance of the varied traditions resultant of living for two millennia of diaspora separation of communities, whether or not to return home to Israel, and even whether or not as Jews we should be supportive of Israel. Should the Temple be rebuilt today we would likely find that whatever construction was performed under the light of the day would come undone under the cover of the dark night for we are yet to be worthy and deserving of receiving the renewal of the Temple.
Again this Tisha B’Av we will continue to be filled with the pains of remorse and loss while we fast adding real hunger to our hunger for a better world where the Temple is rebuilt and the Moshiach has come ushering G0d’s rule on Earth as it is in Heaven. We can also take a small comfort in the fact that more of us have returned home and Israel herself is steadily becoming more Torah observant. There is hope in that the children of Israel are awakening to the truth that all of Judea and Samaria must be retained as part of Israel as it must not be any other way. Many Jews are waking to the necessity to take full possession over the Temple Mount and that it must once again hear the songs of Jewish prayers. And I am even hopeful that as Jews we are learning that though we may pronounce words differently, not all of us are fluent quite yet in Hebrew, and we are at the early stages of a rebirth within the family of Israel thus we are beginning to move in the correct direction and hope for the future is possible. Let us dedicate ourselves to making each future Tisha B’Av a little closer to that future Tisha B’Av where the final Temple is rising atop of Jerusalem like the crown of His Glory that it should be and that we will finally be worthy of such a gift.
Beyond the Cusp