For the last 20 centuries our nation has mourned on Tisha B’Av (Sun, Aug 7). This National Day of Mourning is a day for us to reflect on all the tragedies that have befallen us, not least when Jerusalem was sieged twice with the subsequent destruction of our temples.
We pray three times every day for a return to Jerusalem and to be restored to our former glory, in order to be able to sanctify Hashem's name as a result. Even today, when we are in control of the State of Israel, Jerusalem remains under siege just as it was 2444 years ago and 1954 years ago when we lost our first and second temples and so many times in between. Everyone seems to want a piece of it; it’s a coveted place where so many lives have been lost fighting for it.
Why is Jerusalem always under siege? Because Jerusalem (and even more so the Temple Mount) is a place of power – potency that everyone wants to feed off. Jerusalem in Hebrew (Yerushalayim) combines two words: Yira (awe), Sholom (peace). Awesome harmony. Jerusalem is the place where Abraham offered Isaac at the altar and where Jacob fell asleep and has his ladder dream. Jerusalem is the place from where Adam and Eve were created. That is why all humans – children and carriers of the genes of Adam and Eve – gravitate back to that holiest of places. As the Medrash (Kedoshim 10) tells us Jerusalem is the center of the universe, and everyone feels it consciously or unconsciously.
We pray toward the East, toward Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. We stand in Charleston, Los Angeles, Gibraltar, Paris, Moscow, London, Sydney – wherever we are on the globe – and face Jerusalem. 5000 years ago, 1954 years ago and today.
As we mourn our many losses this timeless message gives us a ray of hope as we remember our former glory and know that better times lay ahead. We pray that one day soon we will see the true fulfillment of the verse (Jeremiah 30:3) ‘For days are coming, declares Hashem, when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah; and I will bring them back to the land that I gave their fathers, and they shall inherit it.
May we merit to see the coming of Mashiach and to spend next year’s Tisha B’Av celebrating in Jerusalem!