Despite the tragic war Israel is currently entangled in, our generation has been blessed with the fulfillment of numerous Biblical promises. We have seen the rebirth of the State of Israel and continue to witness the Ingathering of the Exiles from the four corners of the world. For the first time in centuries Jerusalem is in Jewish hands, yet once a year, on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, Jews fast, cry and mourn for the destruction of our Holy Temple. How can we ignore all these great blessings and why do we mourn for a building that was destroyed 2,000 years ago?
The Bible repeatedly describes the Temple as the spiritual center of the world and the source for peace and prosperity. In Isaiah’s famous vision the prophet describes, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The absence of the Temple is seen in the stories reported on the nightly news and its void adversely affects nations, geo-politics and global peace. Director of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Rabbi Chaim Richman explains that the 9th of Av “is not about bemoaning the Temple. It’s about bemoaning the world without the Temple. A world that has lost its light, its color and its direction.”
Indeed, there is a growing “Temple Movement” in Israel today with thousands of Jews working to rebuild the Temple. According to a poll taken last year in a leading newspaper Ha’aretz, one third of Israelis believe that Israel should erect the Temple on the Temple Mount. Israel’s Housing Minister called publicly for the rebuilding of the Temple, “We’ve built many little, little temples,” MK Uri Ariel said, referring to synagogues, “but we need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.”
Schools throughout Israel are diligently studying the intricate laws of the Temple and Jews of all backgrounds visit the Temple Mount each month. The Jerusalem Post quoted Sarit Berko, a non-observant Israeli who came to the Western Wall to observe the 9th of Av from her home in Tel Aviv, an annual pilgrimage she has made since the Six Day War in 1967. “During Passover, most Jews say ‘Next year in Jerusalem’,” explained Berko, “As an Israeli I pray, ‘Next year may the Third Temple be built and last for eternity.’
The Temple is such a central theme in the Bible that one third of all its commandments deal with laws carried out in it. Rabbi Richman explains that far from being an extremist, “our desire to see a rebuilt Temple is an expression of healthy, normative Judaism.” To further their advocacy, the Temple Institute recently released a short video “The Children are Ready” which dramatically portrays young Jewish kids dragging their fathers from synagogue services in order to join them in the rebuilding of the Temple.
Tisha B’Av: The Children are Ready
While it is true that our generation has much to be grateful for and that our return to Israel is nothing short of miraculous, the golden dome sitting atop the Temple Mount provides a constant reminder that the Torah cannot be fulfilled perfectly and Judaism cannot be expressed fully until the Third Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem.
May God quickly end this ugly war Israel is entangled in and bring a lasting and eternal peace to Zion so that this 9th of Av is the last sorrowful day and we all rejoice together in the streets of Jerusalem with the arrival of the Messiah and the redemption of the world.