Tisha B'Av This Year More Relevant Than Ever
Those who wonder why we need a day of mourning for our Temple when we have a State, a Knesset, a government, a flag, an army and police force got their answer over this past week. All the state mechanisms, our national power and pride, are simply collapsing. This stems from the attempt to erect the external aspects of proud, normal nationalism in Israel, bereft of any hint of Judaism - so that we can be a ‘normal’ nation. But it turns out that without the Judaism that we have tried so hard to shed, we are anything but normal. Arab terrorists have murdered two policemen and a family and those who perpetrated the murders are now the national heroes of the Arab minority in Israel. Tens of thousands of Arabs streamed to the funerals of the three terrorists from the Temple Mount as the multitude glorified them and their vicious act.
The Arabs who live among us are rearing their heads – rightfully so – because we do not believe in ourselves. We have forgotten where we came from and we do not understand where we are going. As a result, we are losing our self-confidence. Under these circumstances, even the pilot of the most sophisticated F-35 or the most advanced submarine cannot stand up to a young girl from Shechem brandishing a pair of scissors who thinks she knows what she is doing here.
The Israeli poet Natan Alterman said that no amount of modern gadgets and sophistication can help a nation that has lost its sense of justice. “Strike his brain,” wrote Alterman, “and he will forget that justice is on his side.” Israel’s sense of justice and identity is completely rooted in the Temple Mount and the Temple. The foundation of our current existence is thus rooted there, as well. When we lose that basic sense of justice and identity, we can’t even put up a metal detector to protect our security forces. Despite the glorious army and wondrous state that we have built.
This year,Tisha B’Av is more relevant than ever. Something about Tisha B’Av attracts young Israelis. Just like the Seder night on Pesach, over the past years Tisha B’Av has transformed into a special day that has risen out of narrow religion to claim its rightful place in Israeli culture. The Seder night returns us to our family identity and Tisha B’Av connects us to our national identity, which is replete with a burning longing and a broad message of perfection of the world.
Ultimately, the foundation of our national identity must be bonded with the Temple and the Temple Mount. We do not have anything else to which to bond. Our national identity is not falafel and not even our service in the IDF. The focal point of our identity is Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Temple. Something deep down inside us longs for Jerusalem and ties us to it and to Tisha B’Av. To the longing and Jewish unity around the genuine, core concept and state of being.