Israeli Broadcasting Corporation Kann's Ariel Plaskin asks the question voiced by some, "Why fast over a Temple that we don't even believe in?"

He then asks, "'Why pray that a new Temple be built? I'm not religious, I don't want a Temple; I certainly don't want animal sacrifices.' So the question arises: 'That's all there is? A secular person has no point at which to connect with Tisha B'Av? So this is a religious holiday, and that's it?'

"The answer to this, in short of course, is 'No'. The mourning should come from a place of Jewish nationalism. The Holy Temple, before it was a religious place, was a unifying place. Three times a year, everybody went there.

"The midrashic literature tells that despite the thousands upon thousands of people, no one ever said 'I didn't have a place to stay in Jerusalem.' People didn't feel crowded, not because it wasn't crowded, but because they were joyous to see each other, to meet everyone. It was good for them.

"In that same place, three times a year, they didn't have disputes. There weren't arguments. They had no political stage. There were no gatherings over incendiary issues. People came happily, and Jerusalem's residents opened their doors to them widely. And when it was all over, everyone went home, to the routine, to the arguments, to politics.

"Let's express it using Kipnis' poem, Our Baskets on our Shoulders. Yes, it's about the holiday of Shavuot:

"How goodly are our sickles,

how comely our spades;

The bounty of the Land is ours,

we've brought in the Harvest.

"Kipnis is emotional while writing this poem, not from a religious place.

"All the Israelis came from the far reaches of the land; from Judea and Samaria, from the Valley and the Galilee. He sees all Israel forming long, long columns, huge circles. It's a wondrous thing to behold. A sight that hasn't been seen from those days until now. Also today, we're not so much headed in that direction. And that's sad.

"That's why we're mourning. That's what we miss. That is the reason we fast. For the unity that existed here, and already for a long time hasn't been seen.

"That's what Kipnis was hinting: Tisha B'Av is a day of mourning exactly for those who feel it to be unnecessary. Tisha B'Av is a landmark day for the secular person for the simple reason that it's not really a religious holiday. Fast, don't fast... Just stop, and remember one day in the year that once, we were together. Really, really together. And today?"

Tisha B'Av at Western Wall
Tisha B'Av at Western Wall Flash 90
Tisha B'Av at Western Wall
Tisha B'Av at Western Wall Flash 90
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