Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Today’s Ninth of Av

By HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

Dedicated to the memory of Hana Bat Chaim

We find ourselves at present in the midst of the mournful period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av known as the "Three Weeks." These are days of remembrance and mourning over the destruction of the Holy Land and the Holy Temple. For many generations we were unable to take practical steps toward hastening the redemption of Israel. We were in exile under the yoke of the nations and simply could not change our plight. We could only pray and strengthen our performance of the commandments. We could do little more than anticipate salvation in our hearts and ask of God that He have mercy upon us and redeem us. Hence, the Three Weeks has traditionally been dominated by the observance of mourning customs over the destruction of the Temple, abstention from joyful celebrations, and recitation of various lamentations - an inward turning toward prayer and supplication.

And, here, in our day, we have merited having the Almighty God, the God of Israel, begin to shine His countenance upon us; He has removed, to a large degree, the yoke of the nations from upon us, and has opened the gates of the Land of Israel before us. We have merited seeing a large portion of the people of Israel return to the land of Israel. The Almighty has removed foreign rule from the land and created a Jewish state in its stead. The gates of immigration are open to all Jewry.

When today we arrive at the Three Weeks, then, they are no longer days of tears and mourning, sadness and suffering marked by an inability to act. Rather, today Jews have the power to act on behalf of the redemption of Israel. And while it is true that not everything is within our power - for we lack the ability to build the Holy Temple in Jerusalem - we at any rate are capable of gathering together in the land of Israel, to build the land, to settle therein, and build up the city of Jerusalem. Therefore, the Three weeks must awaken us to do as much as we are capable on behalf of the redemption. We must show adamant support for immigration and absorption of Jews who have not yet taken this step. Particularly, we must call to those Jews who observe mourning practices during the Three Weeks, though they have not yet come to Israel, saying, "It is not enough that you mourn over the destruction, you must also act on behalf of the redemption."

While we all mourn the destruction of the Temple, the "heart of the nation," it is this very mourning which obligates us to do everything in our power to hearken the redemption - through building and settling the land; building and settling Jerusalem; and, of course, through all of us fulfilling the desire of the Almighty.

Rabbi Yehudah Liva, the famed Maharal of Prague, lists three ingredients which characterize exile:
a) displacement from the homeland
b) servitude at the hands of the nations
c) dispersal

We have the power today to rectify all three of these matters, by gathering together under Israeli rule (True, the government of Israel does not yet follow Jewish law, but the yoke of the nations is no longer upon us, a situation which has always involved a serious desecration of God’s name. What’s more, if the religious community in the Diaspora were to immigrate, this would have a recognizable effect on the nature of Jewish rule in Israel.)

These are things to which we must awaken ourselves during the Three Weeks. 

And may it be God’s will that we merit a complete and speedy redemption.

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