This is perhaps the first time in my life that I have truly grasped the aura of Tisha B'Av. Despite years of going to shul (synagogue), years of learning about it and grasping the technicalities of the fast, it never resonated with me on a personal and spiritual level – until this year.
Tisha B'Av marks the day when our Beit HaMikdash was destroyed – both of them. It marks the day of the chet hamaraglim: the sin of the spies who rejected the land of Israel. It marks the day that Bar Kochba's rebellion was defeated, and the Jews of Beitar were butchered. A year later on the same day, Har HaBayit (Temple Mount) was plowed. It also marks the day of major expulsions of Jews: England, in 1290; and Spain, in 1492.
This day has been filled with so much pain throughout history. Most critical of all is the pain of separation from Hashem, our creator, our father. This is not a day for rejoicing, nor is it a day for eating, drinking, or even greeting one another.
We have been in mourning for three weeks. And during this time, we have seen the eye of the world turn to the very place which we mourn: Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount. We watched as innocent policemen were murdered at the location itself, and a family was slaughtered in its name. The last three weeks, for anyone who cares, have been nothing short of heart wrenching. How aptly timed these events have been, for we are already in mourning.
I cannot remember, in my lifetime, a more significant Tisha B'Av. In a way, it feels as though we have once again lost our home, our Har HaBayit*. The weakness of Israeli leadership and the vicious efforts of our enemies have rendered this holiday all too real for us.
My prayer for Tisha B'Av this year is that this battle we fight continuously reaches its culmination: a magnitude of blessings, and the arrival of our geulah, redemption.
My prayer is that despite the pain and suffering we, as a community, have felt, this will only strengthen us and allow us to be kinder and more sincere with our fellow man.
My prayer is that in the face of evil, we will come together and love each other genuinely, and eradicate sinat chinam, baseless hatred, once and for all.
My final prayer for Tisha B'Av is that we will soon see the day when Hashem no longer turns His face away from us.
"The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. "This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sins no more."
*"bayit" means home in Hebrew