By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir
Our sages explain to us precisely why we mourn on Tisha Be’Av. “On Tisha Be’Av it was decreed that our ancestors would not enter the Land, the First and Second Temples were destroyed, and Betar was captured and plowed under” (Ta’anit 26b).
The spies’ betrayal of Eretz Yisrael found expression in the people’s intense weeping on Tisha Be’Av Night in the Desert: “The entire community raised a hubbub and began to shout. That night, the people wept” (Numbers 14:1). The result was G-d’s saying: “Because you wept for nothing, I shall make you weep down through the generations” (Ta’anit 29a).
The Talmud teaches (Yoma 9b): “Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because the people committed idolatry, sexual sin and murder. Yet in the Second Temple period the people learned Torah and performed mitzvot and kind deeds. Why was that destroyed? Because there was groundless hatred.”
Today, on Tisha Be’Av and in general, we must engage in national and individual soul-searching. We must repent in our relationship to Eretz Yisrael, and we must rid ourselves of the weakness and lack of faith in our ability to conquer the Land, shortcomings displayed amongst the spies and their contemporaries. To the contrary, we must become stronger and more courageous. We must learn and understand and believe fully that Eretz Yisrael belongs exclusively to the Jewish People, and to no one else. If we believe in ourselves, our enemies will accept us as well.
We must search our souls regarding our relationship with our fellow man on the plane of the individual, the family and the community, and we must rid ourselves of all groundless hatred, for it has no justification, as its name implies. We must love our fellow man and our people, each and every individual Jew within the nation that G-d lovingly chose. Through groundless love, like the love between David and Jonathan, we will nullify the reasons for the Destruction, and then we will speedily be privileged to see the complete Messianic rebuilding. With our own eyes we will see the fulfillment of the prophet’s words: “Thus says the L-rd of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall become times of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts to the house of Judah. Therefore love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).
Mourning the destruction of our Temple,
But looking forward to complete salvation,