Rabbi Chaim Richman
Every year, the summertime blues period known as 'The Three Weeks' puts a damper on our spirit. The period is actually designed to realign Israel's focus on the importance of the Holy Temple in our lives, climaxing today, on Tisha B’Av, when the entire nation mourns for the destruction of the Temple. Many find it difficult to identify with tragedy that happened so long ago. This year it seemed different for many people, who found it easier to focus on the tragic aspect of the quintessential Jewish experience in the light of the IDF’s war with Hamas terrorists. But is Tisha B’Av only about tragedy, and is Operation Protective Edge a fitting metaphor?
We are living in a great moment of history; the accomplishments of our precious IDF and the unprecedented unity our people are experiencing are actually a tikkun, a rectification of this whole cycle of destruction and mourning. What are we fighting for if not for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple? What is the goal of our existence, if not everything that the Holy Temple brings to Israel and represents in the world? Tisha B'Av isn't about mourning the loss of a building. The Beit HaMikdash isn't about a building at all…it's about a concept. An idea that all of humanity can be united together and live together in harmony and unity and that everyday human existence can be elevated to a sense of Divine purpose. It is the loss of that level of meaning, experience and purpose that we are mourning for. That's what we miss, and that’s the reason for the mess we’re in.
The Holy Temple is the world’s Operation Protective Edge. Building the Holy Temple means that Israel assumes responsibility for the whole world… because we are our brother's keeper. The prophet Isaiah foresaw that the Holy Temple shall be called a “house of prayer for all nations” because the pilgrimage of all humanity to the rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem will truly be one big family reunion… the family of man, united as never before.
We have gone to great lengths of dedication and sacrifice to rout out Hamas terrorists from the treacherous tunnels in Gaza; yet we have all but abandoned the Temple Mount, our only truly holy place, in the heart of Jerusalem, to Hamas terrorists. What should be the goal of ‘Operation Protective Edge,’ if not ultimately the rebuilding of the Temple. Is the point of everything just to 'restore quiet' to the citizens of Israel? We don’t ask for much. Sure, we have the right to defend ourselves; we have the right to live without missiles raining down on us and we have the right to security. But is that all? Is minimum safety and security all we have to look forward to? Is ‘getting by’ the pinnacle of the Jewish experience? What about bringing the knowledge of G-d to the world? What about unabashedly declaring that life is holy? What about teaching the world to sing a new song, unspeakably beautiful and unique to the people of Israel?
Today, on Tisha B'Av, the day upon which the Holy Temple was destroyed, we came together with hundreds of Jews to the Temple Mount to fulfill the commandment of being in the holy place, to pray there for the welfare of the IDF soldiers who are defending all of Israel, and to show that the cycle of endless mourning can only end when the Jewish people are ready to accept responsibility for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. That responsibility rests squarely upon our shoulders. The sages of Israel have taught that the Holy Temple can only be rebuilt once the nation has achieved a level of unity and unconditional love. Throughout the past few weeks, our nation has been witness to a level of unity that is almost unprecedented in memory. This is the type of unity and commitment that will enable our generation, with the help of G-d and with the will of the people of Israel, to rebuild the Holy Temple.
Join the Temple Institute's REBUILD THE THIRD TEMPLE Campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/build-the-third-temple--3