Today is Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of AvÂ – aÂ month in the lunar Hebrew calendar.
It is the saddest day in the Jewish year because it marks the day in which the first and second temples were destroyed by the Babylonians and then by theÂ Romans. Both templesÂ wereÂ destroyed more than five hundred years apart,Â yet on the same day of the Hebrew calendar: the Ninth of Av.
There are other tragic events that coincide with the Ninth of Av, but none of them equal the tragedy of the destruction of these two temples.
Even among secular Israelis, the destruction of the first and second temples has tremendous significance. During the 1973 war, when Israel seemed about to lose the war, the code phrase that Moshe Dayan used to begin readying their nuclear weapons was:
The Third Temple is about to fall.
For Israelis, the significance of the capture of the Temple Mount in 1967 lay in the feeling that their country was finally whole. Without Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, Israel was missing a vital part of the nation.
This idea of a ‘missing piece’ is important. Jews everywhere hope for the day when they no longer commemorate the destruction of the first two temples – because they hope to have a third temple.
That is an important idea to think about. Even though this day commemorates a terrible destruction and massacre (and a number of other terrible events), what the rabbis essentially say in their commentariesÂ isÂ that the significance of Tisha b’AvÂ lies in the fact that there is no temple NOW.
Whatever the correctÂ interpretation of the day, it is still the most difficult dayÂ in the Israeli/Jewish calendar, and should be one that gives us pause for sober reflection.Â Â