Prayers to Rebuild the Temple

Today is Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of Av, commemorating many of the worst tragedies befalling the Jewish People over the past 3,300 years. Jews the world over are praying for the Temple's rebuilding.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 13:58

Among the calamities that occurred on this day were the refusal of the Jewish People to ignore the report of the Scouts and agree to go with Moses to the Promised Land; the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples in Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians and Romans, respectively; the failure of the Bar Kokhba uprising in the second century; the deadline by which all of Spanish Jewry was to be expelled from the country in 1492; the beginning of World War I in 1917; and the end of legal Jewish residence in Gush Katif, in 2005.

As on every Tisha B'Av since the liberation of the Western Wall in 1967, tens of thousands of Jews frequented the Wall last night and today, praying for the rebuilding of the Temple just behind it. Though pleasure trips and joyous get-togethers are forbidden on Tisha B'Av, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed - Rabbi of Har Bracha in the Shomron, head of Yeshivat Shavei Shomron, and author of several Halakhic [Jewish Legal] works - has written,

"It is clear that one need not refrain from going to the Western Wall [on Tisha B'Av] for fear of meeting friends and being happy. My father and teacher [Rabbi Zalman Melamed] has said that there is no greater rectification for Tisha B'Av than to go to the Wall, the remnant of the destruction, and to pray for the Holy Temple to be speedily rebuilt in our days. On the contrary: The fact that many people go there enhances the power of the prayer, and increases Divine honor."

Rabbi Melamed the son added that when one meets friends there, "he should not greet them, but is permitted to grasp their hands with love and pray with them for the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash."

The police have restricted entry to the Temple Mount: No Jews at all, no tourists, and for Moslems - only females or 45-year-old-and-over residents of Israel.

The Supreme Court had originally permitted members of the Temple Mount Faithful organization to enter, together with other Jews, as long as they would not wear special clothing, act provocatively, or stand out in any way or form. The police, however, pre-empted the decision by forbidding all Jews to enter, for fear of Arab violence against them. Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky supported the police decision.

The Chief Rabbinate, which held a meeting in Sderot this week, issued a ruling forbidding soldiers at war from fasting on Tisha B'Av this year. The ruling states that fasting could affect their combat ability and "is liable to cause danger to their lives and to others around them, and therefore they must eat and drink as much as they need in order to be as fit for combat as possible and to carry out this holy mission of fighting and winning."

The rabbis also called upon "all our brothers in the House of Israel wherever they dwell, including those who normally do not fast on this day, to make a special effort to strengthen the Nation of Israel and its unity, and to keep the fast of Tisha B'Av. All of Israel is responsible for one another, and this power obligates us to lend a hand and take part in the sorrow of those who are suffering because of this war."