Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Tisha B’Av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, on which we fast, deprive ourselves and pray. It is the end of the Three Weeks, when we mark the destruction of the Holy Temple. Even as we mourn, there is an element of joy and comfort. Indeed, the reading of Eichah concludes with the verse “Restore us to You, O L-rd, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old.” There is also a custom among many to use flimsy paperback Kinot booklets, hoping that they will not be needed next year.

The history of the Jewish experience since the Holy Temple was destroyed some 1,941 years ago is known as the exile. Exiled from their land and from their spiritual center, the Jewish nation has been marking time, waiting to leap, as it were, back into history, to take back its own destiny, and above all, to rebuild the Holy Temple. The Jewish nation has seen to it that the Holy Temple was never forgotten throughout the darkest moments of her exile, and that her sons and daughters would one day renew the Divine service on Mount Moriah, and rebuild the Holy temple once again.

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Till this day, many Jewish homes continue to observe the tradition of maintaining a half-meter square patch of wall scraped clean of plaster as one enters the house. For how can we complete our houses when G-d’s house lays in ruins? Yet the patch is really a reminder of the Divine promise that we will one day build the Holy Temple again. We weren’t instructed to enshrine the 9th of Av as a day of permanent mourning for the Holy Temple, but as a day to remind us of our responsibility to rebuild the Holy Temple one day.

When the holy temple was destroyed it is written that, “Even in the last minutes of the war, the priests continued carrying out their sacred duties, in spite of the fact that the Temple courtyards flowed with the blood of the slain… The priests and levites stood on the platform and continued to sing…and did not cease until the enemy entered and subdued them. When the High Priest saw that the Holy Temple was in flames, he climbed up to the roof of the Sanctuary… They held the keys to the Temple in their hands and spoke before the Holy One, Blessed be He: ‘Master of the Universe! It appears that we were not worthy of being trusted officers for You; take back the keys to Your house!’ And with that, they threw the keys upward. The image of a hand appeared in the heavens and took them

“And when the priests and levites saw that the Holy Temple was indeed consumed with flames, they held the lyres and trumpets…and plunged into the fire.” (Aicha Rabtai). And it is at that point in time that hope itself is born, at the very darkest moments.

There is a time to weep, and a time to rebuild. Rashi states simply that Tish’a B’Av is a time to build. Rashi quotes from the prophet Amos: “On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old…” Time is dynamic. Time marks change, and time itself is a vehicle for change. G-d created our world within the dimension of time, and time is what marks the progression of G-d’s revelation to man: this is what we call history. The months, weeks and days of the Hebrew calendar don’t merely mark historical events that happened once, and are to be commemorated for time immemorial. The festivals as well as the other “appointed days” don’t merely remind us of a ritual or tradition we need to perform. They reawaken a spiritual moment and relocate a spiritual place within the Jewish soul. They reopen a window of perception and access to a greater spiritual truth. They rekindle a living and loving relationship between G-d and His people. The ninth of Av is a sacred day that demands tending to it, in the most fundamental and spiritual level – for bound within the spiritual nature of the ninth of Av is nothing less than the destiny of our own souls. In the month of Av the spiritual process that began in Tammuz, reaches a climax. This is a process of revelation of the powers that enable a transformation from bad to good. The inner secrets of the Torah explain that Av is the month in which the energy of love is felt strongly in all the levels of the soul.

The points of connection between the months Tammuz and Av pass through the period of “the three weeks” between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, known as yamei bein hameitzarim – the days of distress and mourning. However, the literature of Jewish law emphasize that at the time of the redemption, these will become days of festivity and great happiness.. That day, on which the two Temples were destroyed, is noted in the ancient sources as the day of birth of the Messiah, who will bring redemption to the entire world and build the third Temple in Jerusalem. For this reason the month is known as Menahem-Av (comforter of Av), emphasizing the comfort over the sorrow of the exile. The zodiac sign of the month is Leo. As the ancient Talmudic literature tell us: “The lion (Nebudchadnezzer, King of Bavel) rose in the sign of Leo and destroyed Ariel (the Temple) so that the lion (G-d) would rise in the sign of Leo and Ariel would be built

The Temple is called Ariel (Lion of G-d) in the Torah because of its lion-like shape when viewed from above.. in the month of Av we are granted the special ability to see how everything is created and comes into being with the paternal kindness and love of the Creator, and how all is for a good purpose; as the sages said, “no evil descends from above. So may we all gather together this ninth of Av and be able to actually see with our own eyes the full redemption once again. Amen..”….

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