Tisha B’Av (9th of Av) symbolizes the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (Temple), the deep severance between us caused by the revelation of divisive egoism.
The 9th of Av is a tragic day in Jewish history when the First and Second Temples were destroyed, and also when the Jews were expelled from England, France, and Spain. In addition, it was also the day on which the Jews were taken from the Warsaw Ghetto to be slaughtered during the Holocaust.
There is an intrinsic spiritual root for every holiday and special date on the Jewish calendar, spiritual forces that appear and influence our physical world. The fact that all these tragedies occurred on this same date across many centuries is not accidental. It underscores the spiritual root underlying all of the problems afflicting the people of Israel.
Why did the destruction of the Temple occur? Because we started to put emphasis on the Temple as a building instead of as a symbol of our unity. We, the Jewish people, got to a point where we forgot about the higher power available through our connection, the force that cements the bonds between us. We moved away from our purpose of being as one man in one heart, a state which allows the Creator to be revealed.
As it is written, “The evening of the unfortunate complaints will be the Ninth of Av. And the Creator ruled: you have cried in vain for no reason, and therefore, I will give you a reason for your weeping. The Ninth of Av went on to become a day of mourning for the whole nation. It is actually on this day that the First and Second Temples were destroyed…” (Midrash Raba, Shlach)
Today we are found precisely in the same situation as during the past destructions of the Temples. Nobody really holds good feelings about others. We are in a state in which egoism dominates us, separating and destroying everything that could be positive between us. Until we recognize our fatal flaw, there is no point in just remembering Tisha B’Av as something that happened in the past over which we need to mourn. We are failing to learn what it is that we need to do as a people here and now: to unite, and by doing that, turn evil into good. Therefore, unfortunately, horrific events keep affecting Jews, and even the forecast of a new Holocaust may be on the horizon, this time on a global scale, threatening all Jews wherever they are.
We simply must realize that the source of our troubles—unfounded hatred between us—is as vivid and alive today as in the past. So it is up to us to begin rebuilding our temple, building the Third Temple—the state of unity and completion of one another, of rising above hatred, arrogance and pride; the state of “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
We must create a connection between us sufficient for the good force called the Creator to be revealed. Meanwhile, this powerful positive force is still concealed in our world. The moment we establish proper and beneficial connections, the goodness of the world will be disclosed through us and we will be able to show the whole world how to build the Third Temple for all peoples and nations; as it is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7).
I wish that all the tragic events happening to our people would stop, that we would recognize and understand their cause and uproot it. I wish to see us rise above the suffering of the current world in connections of love. May we speedily succeed in this!