The 17th of Tammuz. The day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached, three weeks prior to the destruction of the 2nd Temple.

People blame the Romans. The Romans were an accessory. A vehicle. The real culprits? The quarreling Jewish factions, namely the Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots and the Sicarii.

Today, we have some ongoing themes of our own:

Religious vs Secular

Conservative and Reform vs Orthodox

American vs Israeli

Haredim vs the IDF

And within the orthodox world itself:

Chabad vs Misnagdim

Ashkenazim vs Sephardim

Modern Orthodox vs Haredim

Syrians vs converts

Russians vs Americans (and everyone else for that matter)

Mashhadi vs Tehrani

Frum from birth vs Baal T’Shuva

Off the derech vs on the derech (whatever “the derech” is)

Zionist vs anti-Zionist

The list goes on. And we constantly size up the other guy. We ALL do it. (Don’t attempt to exclude yourself)

We constantly say that the other guy is going to hell, as we foment our own hell here on Earth.

We talk smack behind his back.

“Look at how they pray”
“Look at what they learn”
“Look at what they eat”
“Look at how they dress”
“Look at what they believe”
“Look how they live”

If you were to step back and look at our nation as an outsider, you’d get the impression that we’re a bunch of miserable individuals…because only miserable people can sit back and judge the other guy to make themselves feel better about their own behavior or to justify their own behavior.

Don’t get me wrong. There are those who walk among us who can in fact be classified as ‘Erev Rav’.

The mixed multitude, who claimed the mantle of leadership, that brought us to sin with the Golden Calf…or in today’s era, to give away part of our land (or all of it) in exchange for “peace”…or those who claim to be involved in “tikkun olam” as they they slander and destroy our people.

But all in all, our own destruction starts from within and in the case of the Three Weeks and in particular Tisha B’Av, the ensuing events that transpired in history were merely a replay of the original event:

The First Crusade in 1096
Expulsion from England in 1290
Expulsion from France in 1306
Expulsion from Spain in 1492
Germany entered World War I 1914

On August 2, 1941 SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution.”
On July 23, 1942 began the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.

The Israeli disengagement from Gaza began in 2005, expelling 8000 Jews who lived in the town of Gush Katif…after which, Hamas began its campaign of launching Qassam rockets at Israeli civilians, which continues to this very day.

During these Three Weeks, you will be put in situations where you will be tested in terms of how you judge your fellow Jews.

Judge favorably. Give the benefit of the doubt. You have no idea what’s going on in someone’s life or the storm that rages in their soul…religious or secular alike.