Unity in prayer at the Western Wall. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Birkat Kohanim

Tisha B’Av is a 25-hour day of intense mourning for the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem and the Jewish exile.

By Rabbi Ari Enkin,
Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This month the Jewish people observe the fast of Tisha B’Av, a day of intense mourning for the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem, not to mention the city itself, and by extension, the end of Jewish life in the Land of Israel for about 2,000 years until our return in 1948.

The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.

You might say that these events were not all that surprising. Let’s face it: as history demonstrates–both before and after these events—the Jews were never permitted to live in peace. There was always someone out there who wanted to kill us and kick us out of our land.

There was a spiritual side to these events as well. Our sages teach that the reason God had allowed the Temple to be destroyed is due to Sinat Chinam, the baseless hatred, disunity and infighting that was rampant among the Jewish people.

Not only is such behavior an abominable transgression in and of itself, but as any army general would tell you, when there is hatred, disunity and infighting among the troops, the enemy is sure to win. And indeed it happened that way.

Let us fast-forward about 2,000 years. Nothing seems to have changed! No, the Temple has not yet been rebuilt, so our enemies cannot destroy that. But they are still trying to kill us, destroy our cities and kick us out of our land! No, not the Romans…the Palestinian Arabs. (Judea had been renamed ‘Palestina’ by King Herod after he suppressed the Jewish revolt against the Romans.)

The Hamas terror group, to be exact, and other Palestinian terror groups are trying to get rid of us now – not by using spears and catapults, as did the Romans; rather, they are firing missiles, trying to kill as many civilians as possible.

But this time the enemy will not win. We have learned our lesson.

The Jewish Weapon for Achieving Victory

Since Palestinian terrorists kidnapped and murdered three Jewish boys who were making their way home from school for the Sabbath in June, the unity between Jews in Israel and worldwide has been unprecedented. Religious and political persuasions do not matter; we are all united.

We were united in the efforts to bring back our three boys, and now we are united on the war in Gaza – perhaps the most justified war that Israel has ever waged. A war for our existence and independence, a war for our home. A war we did not want and tried to avoid for years as Hamas was building terror tunnels beneath our feet in order to kidnap and kill Israel civilians.

The situation is not the result of isolated incidents in the Gaza area or even in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Hamas rockets have been launched towards every single city. When the siren goes off, we fear not only for those in our immediate surroundings. We also fear for everyone else in the country.

But we have unity.

God will not allow Jerusalem to fall again. Our enemies will not win this time. The Jewish people are staying put. In fact, it appears as if God Himself was called up from the reserves. Did you notice that miracles are happening everywhere?

The Iron Dome system in the Ashkelon area was out of commission one day last week for about eight hours. Not a single rocket was fired towards that city during that time.

The world finds it hard to believe that 1,400 rockets were fired into Israel last week, causing only one casualty. Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey declared: “It cannot be true.”

So Many Miracles!

During the Tisha B’Av fast, we will sit on the floor like mourners and read the Book of Lamentations. We will fast for 25 hours. We will remember the destruction of Jerusalem, and more important, what caused the destruction.

Maybe, just maybe, there is glimmer of home, inspiration and even happiness in this year’s Tisha B’av mourning rituals: the happiness that this time, our enemies will not win. We will be victorious. And with that, hopefully someday soon, the third and final Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem along with the coming of the Messiah.

It all depends on our unity.