TISHA B’AV: MOURNING THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR TEMPLE
By Sherrie B. Miller
Napoleon once passed a synagogue on the day of Tisha B’Av and observed the entire
congregation sitting and weeping. Quite intrigued, he asked his officers if they
could explain this unusual sight. One intelligent officer responded by recounting
the history of the Jewish People and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed
two thousand years ago. He explained the significance of the day and sense of mourning
that Jews all over the world express yearly over this tragic and enormous loss.
Totally amazed by the phenomenon that he witnessed before his very eyes, Napoleon
exclaimed: “any nation that can retain such a fierce love and loyalty for a Holy
site that they’ve never seen that was so far away, and for so long, is destined
for greatness and will outlive us all!”
It is true that Tisha B’Av is the day we mourn the loss of the our dear Beis Hamikdash,
but how many of us are genuinely moved to tears or even sense the slightest void
in our lives due to this tragic occurrence?
How many of us really think about and ponder the effects of losing our Holy Temple?
How many of us albeit secretly think to ourselves: “things are pretty good the way
they are, maybe the Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Temple can wait a bit longer?”
Perhaps the mourning is not “just” about a physical building, but about the loss
of our inner and spiritual being.
There is a Chassidic story that illustrates this point well:
A group of children were outside playing a game of hide and seek. One of little
boys hid behind a tree and waited to be found. He waited and he waited and he waited,
but no one appeared! In exasperation he ran inside wailing and told his mother:
“we were playing hide and seek. I was hiding but no one was seeking!”
When we are so busy and distracted by chasing our physical pleasures, some times
Hashem “hides” awaiting our resolve to “seek” and find Him. The periods of “hester
panim”, when Hashem purposely conceals His Presence, are most trying times as was
evidenced right in the beginning with the sin of Adam HaRishon. By eating the apple,
Adam HaRishon acted as a “lone rider.” He allowed the temptation of the forbidden
fruit to sever him from G-d and disobey His command. Disconnection from the Almighty
invariably leads to loneliness and suffering.
It is at this point, after Adam HaRishon shut G-d out, that Hashem in all His Glory,
comes to seek out Man!
Hashem calls out to Adam: “Ayeka?, Where are you?” “Who are you and what is the
meaning and purpose of your life?”
It is fascinating to note the Eicha and Ayeka are the identical letters!
“Eicha yashava badad…?” “Eicha” speaks about the national trauma that befell the
people when they cut themselves off from Hashem and found themselves alone amongst
the nation. The alone-ness of then can be felt on the micro level today in an unprecedented
trend of “singlehood”. In the United States, the number of singles has more than
quadrupled in the last thirty years. There are many valid reasons for the skepticism
regarding marriage, but as Jews possessing a Divine spark from above, we must fight
this trend vehemently and first of all, find the compatible soul-mate within!
“Ayeka” is our own individual “wake up call” to rebuild ourselves from the inside
and give ourselves Spiritual workouts at least as much as we concern ourselves with
our physical workouts. The Torah clearly states: “And they shall build Me a Temple
and I will dwell within them!” So how do we accomplish this formidable task? How
do we elevate ourselves to a level wherein we can radiate Hashem’s light and reveal
the Divine Presence in the world?
Marriage is the most pragmatic and efficient arena within which we are forced to
develop and grow. We must put all of our egotistical demands and pleasure seeking
inclinations on the back burner. We cannot relegate “chessed” and giving to a time
of convenience, but rather within the framework of marriage it is incumbent upon
me to give to my spouse at all times, as if I am giving to myself.
This growth process is similar to that of a lobster. In order for a lobster to grow
it must risk its life when its body feels too tight for its shell and shed it until
a new shell grows. In other words, only when it feels discomfort and pain is the
lobster forced to grow! Similarly our greatest life lessons are borne out of suffering
While single, we can learn from Tisha B’av that it is not just the physical building
that must be rebuilt, but ourselves, from the inside out. We must work to “become
the right person”, BEFORE we seek the “right” person.
And we must keep in mind that the challenges of dating and marriage, although difficult
and frustrating at times are all part the necessary rebuilding that will please
G-d lead us individually and our Nation collectively to a speedy redemption and
final return to Gan-Eden, the Garden of self-refinement. (Eden from the Hebrew word
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish matchmaker on SawYouAtSinai
and a dating coach in Jerusalem. She received her counseling degree from the Michlala
in Jerusalem and an M.A. in Jewish Education from Touro College. Sherrie is certified
by Midreshet Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital
couple’s counselor and Kallah teacher.