Tisha B’Av

July 15, 2013

Tisha b’av suffers, even amongst the not yet religious public as it is not within the school year. Apart from the fact that their favourite cafe might not be open, they have no idea about the significance of the 9th of Av.

There is a well known story about Napoleon Boneparte campaigning in Russia hearing the wailing coming from a synagogue. He enquired as to the reason and was told that the Jews had suffered a disaster. Their Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed. “Did this happen recently? I didn’t hear about it,” asked Napoleon. No, it happened hundreds of years ago……

Napoleon declared that a people who are still mourning the destruction of their spiritual home after so many years are bound to return and rebuild it.

Even Napoleon, whose attitude towards Jews was, to say the least inconsistent, understood that without actively remembering ones history one has no future.

Even the secular Hebrew writers agreed that there would have been no State of Israel, without tisha b’av.

But i have been asked many times, now that there is a State, should we still commemorate its destruction?

The rabbis said: Every generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt, it as if it destroyed it!

ירושלמי, יומא, פ“א ה“א, דפוס וינציה, לח ג: “אמרו כל דור שאינו נבנה בימי(נ)ו מעלין עליו כאילו הוא החריבו“.

What does this mean?

Many reasons are given for the destruction of the Temples but it is agreed that the main reason for the destruction of the second Temple by the Roman in the year 70 CE was “sinat chinam” cause less hatred.

On returning home from Jerusalem last night, despite marvelling the wonderful growth, I realised that only two things remain in Jerusalem from the Second Temple period – the kotel (western wall) and sinat chinam (causeless hatred).

This is the reason that we still mourn of Tisha B’av. And when we get rid of sinat chinam and start practicing ahavat chinam ( causeless love) in the words of Rav Kook then, and only then will the other walls be rebuilt.

The person who I knew who actually loved human beings the most, with all their faults and foibles, was non other than my Gemora Rebbe, Rav Leperer zatza”l. His love of people flowed from his love of God. As human beings, all human beings are created in the image of God.

How can one love God and hate His creatures?

My heart fails me on hearing the exchange of insults during the ongoing elections for the Chief Rabbinate. Rav Kook, its founder, must be turning in his grave!
But it will be over soon and hopefully the successful candidates and the others can get back to spreading the light of Torah, all of whose ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.

Wishing you and easy and meaning fast. Remebering that the fast is not the purpose but the means to repentance and improvement. May we soon see the fulfilment of the words of the prophet Zechariah, speedily, in our days.

Zechariah 8:19

Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be seasons of joy and gladness, and cheerful festivals for the house of Judah: therefore love truth and peace.


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