LTTN med xp logo The Ninth of Av, 5760

August 9, 2000

© 2000 Light to the Nations, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved
Tonight all of Israel become as mourners. “The ways of Zion do mourn…all her gates are desolate” (Lamentations 1:4) We will sit on the floor, read Lamentations, and weep over the loss of the Holy Temple, in the same manner as one who mourns the loss of a close family member.
 
This Tisha B’Av marks 1930 years since the destruction of the Holy Temple…and added  together with the 70 years of Babylonian exile following the destruction of the First Temple, this effectively completes 2,000 years of “exile” without the Temple. These 2,000 years are two of G-d’s “days”—for in Moses’ prayer we read that “a thousand years in Your sight is like yesterday when it passes” (Psalms 90:4). Thus G-d consoles us that “After two days He will revive us, in the third day He will raise us up, and we will live in His presence” (Hosea 6:2).
 
It is related that once Napoleon entered a synagogue on the ninth of Av and found the congregation in deep mourning. He asked, “What is the commotion here? What is this great loss?” He was told, “Excellency, the Jews are in mourning for the loss of their Temple.” “What Temple?” Napoleon asked. “When did this happen?” And when Napoleon was told that the event occurred about 1700 years ago, he was incredulous, and exclaimed “How amazing! These Jews are such a remarkable people! If they can remember to mourn for something for so many years, they will surely merit to see it again.”
 
But how much does the loss of the Holy Temple really mean to us? If we had the chance, would we do what we can in order to “merit seeing it again?”
 
Or, in the words of the prophet Haggai (1:2-4):
 
“Thus speaks the L-rd of Hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the L-rd’s house shall be built. Then the word of the L-rd came by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, yourselves, To dwell in your well-timbered houses, While this house lies waste?”
 
We do have the chance. But perhaps that is the problem. For it is much easier to mourn, much safer, and much more politically correct, than it is to take responsibility to begin to rebuild. Every mourning period comes to an end, and the mourner must arise from the floor despite his overwhelming sense of loss…he must continue, and face the future. “Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a great lion” (Numbers 23:24).
 
When will this people rise up?
 
How long will we sit in our well-timbered houses? Every evening we return to our tree-lined streets, and to our comforts…but the honor of G-d continues to spiral ever downward.
 
The current Moslem desecration on the Temple Mount is the most horrific devastation that the Mount has seen since the Second Temple was destroyed in the year 70. The indifference and apathy that many express towards this ongoing program of destruction is astounding. How can we pay lip service and feign sorrow at the destruction of the Holy Temple, when it is going on even as we speak? This is not an isolated act, but a calculated, precise operation designed to destroy all traces of Jewish history from its most holy site. Furthermore, the Wakf’s plans to erect a fourth mosque at the site, and thus permanently alter the nature of the Temple Mount, is part of an effort to de-Judaize Jerusalem, re-write its history, and rob it of all Jewish connection.
 
As Camp David clearly demonstrated, whoever rules the Temple Mount rules the entire Land of Israel. Thus Arafat, seemingly more zealous over his fictitious claims to Jerusalem, than Barak was over his true claims to her, was not willing to even consider sharing sovereignty on the Mount.
 
Is that the way it will end…as a contest over who will be more zealous over Jerusalem? If that is the case we know who is the most zealous of all.
 
“I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal.” (Zechariah 1:14)
 
When will this people rise up? When will this day become a festive day of rejoicing?
 
“Thus says the L-rd of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, says the L-rd.” (Haggai 1:8)

Rabbi Chaim Richman
THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE JERUSALEM