By Moshe Schonbrun
Tisha B’av can be a grueling day of grasping to internalize the relevance of the day. Here are 8 meditations on the Beis Hamikdash & the Jewish People from a variety of incredible thinkers that may help spark that resonance:
- The loss of the Beis Hamikdash can only be understood through the loss of its microcosm, our own homes. Imagine a fire sweeping through every room of your house, taking with it in its destructive path the family portraits, the dinner table that served up so many intimate memories, the stores of souvenirs, objects and furniture that make up a life. In our sentimental moments, each nook and corner holds reservoirs of meaning. Who am I if I no longer have a home? Often when people are moving and look at the contents of their homes boxed up in cartons, their houses stripped of personal identifying markers, they experience the existential dizziness of dislocation. Imagine now that we undergo this as an entire people. We don’t know who we are when our center is removed.
// Dr. Erica Brown
- We are indeed still in exile and are therefore called “prisoners.” But Zechariah HaNavi describes us as “prisoners of hope”. The Jews gave to the world the idea of time as a narrative of hope, which meant that what is lost can be regained, what is destroyed can be rebuilt, and what disappears may one day return. Our Prophets saw beyond the horizon of history, so that where everyone else saw doom, they also saw the hope that lay just over that horizon, and they understood that there was a route from here to there. That really is a remarkable vision. We are the people who gave the concept of hope to the world. We kept faith, never gave up, and honestly observed for 26 centuries without a pause, the line in Tehillim 137, “I will never forget you, Yerushalayim”. And because we never gave up hope, we finally came back to Yerushalayim. Hope rebuilds the ruins of Yerushalayim. The Jewish people kept hope alive, and hope kept the Jewish people alive.
// Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
- True and devoted friends never forget each other — even if anger and offense have caused them to separate from one another. Of genuine friends, it may never be said that “out of sight, out of mind.” Where there was once deep and profound love between husband and wife, some spark of it will always remain no matter how sorely their marriage has been tried. Absence, indeed, may make the heart grow fonder and the old love may well be reawakened… Such indeed is the hester panim that separates us from Hashem. We are exiled from Him — but not alienated. We are so far — yet so close. We are separated — but not divorced. Hashem’s face is hidden — but His heart is awake.
// Rabbi Norman Lamm
- The word “bas” — daughter — appears in Eichah more than 20 times, most often as bas Zion, bas Yerushalayim or bas ami. The message is clear: Knesses Yisrael is the daughter of Hashem, and the father-daughter relationship is a metaphor that describes the relationship between Hashem and us. This word bas is the most powerful way to describe our relationship: the parent-child contract is permanent. It is impossible to break up, impossible to divorce, impossible to quit. There is no get or contract to end the relationship. It lasts forever.
// Sivan Rahav Meir
- Our yearnings to be connected to Hashem’s House on the mountain summit, to the service of the kohanim, the song of the Leviim, and the gathering of the Yisraelim, to share all of the nation’s soul-ties to its holy abode — these yearnings awaken the beauty of the universe. They establish an elevated Temple inside the soul of each individual.
// Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook
- It’s hard for us to get out of our own way. It’s hard for us to see beyond our own nose. We often convince ourselves of the righteousness of our position, and most of us lack the self-awareness most of the time to notice when we are really just fighting for the sake of our own ego and self-promotion. It’s tricky. This is why we sometimes tend to slide into a very unpleasant place of sinas chinam, of not understanding that we can disagree with someone or an idea or a behavior passionately without it corroding the basis of a respectful dialogue and relationship.
// Rabbi Judah Mischel
- Sinas chinam is the rejection of another for no reason other than that she is not me and her way of serving Hashem is different from mine. So long as one cannot accept that Hashem has created each of us differently and with his or her unique path to Him, one is engaged in sinas chinam, not to mention denial of the Creator Himself.
// Rabbi Reuven Leuchter
- The Netziv dramatically expands the understanding of sinas chinam as hate extended to those who serve Hashem differently.
He laments that such internal hatred within the observant community existed in his time as well. Hating someone who “wronged” us is necessarily limited. With how many people can we fight over money or honor? But if we hate those who differ with us on matters of halacha or hashkafa, the sinas chinam is unlimited. Many individuals and communities with different practices or hashkafos are still guilty of this type of sinas chinam, which is preventing the geula.
// Meishiv Davar, 1:44
As we mark Tisha B’av let’s change this! Let’s create a space for every individual- not just to fit in, but to belong, and the Bais Hamikdash will be restored and celebrated before our eyes!
A deeply valued content contributor for Meaningful Minute, Moshe is a husband, father, and espresso enthusiast. He is Executive Director at Avenues Recovery of Maryland, a residential addiction treatment center, and co-founder of The 13th Gate, an innovative platform for contemporary spiritual engagement in Silver Spring, MD. A talmid of Rabbi Meir Stern and Rabbi Asher Arielli, Moshe previously served as Rabbi at the University of Arizona in Tucson and the University of Maryland in College Park. He is the artist behind @farbreng_ink and the Chavrusa Podcast.