Why Tisha B’Av should matter to you, even if you don’t know what it is

Tisha. . .what?

Never heard of that one before?

Before I became religious, I hadn’t either. For those who don’t know what it is, it is a holiday where we commemorate the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash (The Holy Temple), both of them. On the same day. About 490 years apart.

In short, the destruction happened because the Romans were jealous of the Temple. They looted and destroyed the most sacred structure ever created on the planet. And, until we get our collective acts together, we won’t have another one.

This is a sad one on the calendar. So sad that on this day, we mourn. In fact, we are so sad that we don’t eat or drink. Reminiscent of Shiva, we sit on low chairs, and we don’t chitchat with our friends. Instead, we sit and remember and contemplate one of the most terrible days in world history.

We are mourning one of the saddest losses humankind has ever known. When the Temple was around, G-d’s presence was palpable. It was in the air. There was a holiness and tranquility that brought much blessing into the world.

What went wrong? Well, lots of things. First, the Jews were fighting with each other. Then, the Romans were fighting the Jews. Then, it all just became one big mess. The Romans stormed the Old City of Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and, looted all of the valuables (see the Arch of Titus in Rome for confirmation. That menorah they are hauling? Yup. It is ours.)

Anyway, so what does a several thousand-year-old territorial battle have to do with us? In 2016. Lots and lots.

See, as a human race, we haven’t quite learned our lessons.

Whether you are a Jew, Arab, Christian, Black or White person, people are still fighting. Over all kinds of things. Some significant, and, some, really not. We are all turned inward, when, really, we should be looking outward.

What do our neighbors need? And, I am not just talking about the new neighbors who just moved in next door who would appreciate a fresh pan of brownies. I am talking about our global neighbors as well.

The jealousy and hatred that destroyed the Temple is still here. In various forms, but, we haven’t learned our lesson. We have differences, yes we do, but, that doesn’t mean that we can’t respect each other.

The Torah describes the 12 tribes of the Nation of Israel. While each of those tribes were different, they all wandered together through the desert for 40 years-together. But at the same time, they remained separate. While they worked as a collective team, they didn’t actually live intermingled, because they each had their own character, which needed to be preserved. They knew, and respected, each other’s differences, and they didn’t get in each other’s space, or, try and step on the neighboring tribe’s toes. And it worked.

But, once that respect began to wane, then the Temple which had once stood so strong and so proud began to weaken. And, once it began to weaken, it became susceptible to the outside forces that sought to destroy it, and eventually, it was destroyed.

When the Jews of that generation realized what their actions had done, there was intense mourning on a national scale. Even though it was for the Jews, we are not the only ones who lost out. All of the nation’s lost just as much as the Jews did—they just didn’t realize it. The Sages tell us that most or even all of the wars, plagues, and famines that the world has seen since then can all be traced back to the lack of the Divine Presence in the world. And that’s due to the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem.

For the world today, the enemies are different, there may be more, and, they may be powerful. But, if we would really learn the lesson that G-d was (and, well is) trying to teach us, then, we would be indestructible. And, maybe, just maybe the Temple would be rebuilt.

And, on that glorious day, when it does finally happen, there will be a party.

And, you are all invited.

About the Author
Beryl Tritel, MSW is a marriage and individual therapist, specializing in Women's Life Issues. She has offices in RBS and in Jerusalem, at The Place. She also sees clients worldwide over Skype. She can be reached at beryltritel@gmail.com.