Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why Mourn for a Temple We Never Saw?

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students, Diaspora Yeshiva

On Tish'a b'Av we mourn for the destruction of the first and second Batei Mikdash. The Talmud in Taanit

(30) states that all Mitzvot that apply to a mourner during the Shiva also apply to the entire Jewish people on Tisha b'Av.

In other words, according to Halacha we are all sitting Shiva on Tisha b'Av. But, how can this be? For the Halacha states that if a close relative has died and we did not know about it until after 30 days, there will be no formal Shiva. We would sit Shiva symbolically for only an hour, and then get up and go about our regular routine. How then, can we sit Shiva on Tisha b‘Av for tragic events that occurred thousands of years ago?

Rav Soloveitchik answers this question with a statement in Talmud Yerushalmi which states, "Every generation in which the Beit HaMikdash has not been rebuilt is like the generation in which it was destroyed." Thus, we are not mourning on Tisha b'Av only for tragic events that happened thousands of years ago, but we are also mourning for the ongoing tragedy of not having the Temple rebuilt in our time.

Why is the Beit HaMikdash so important to us as Jews’? The Chofetz Chayim explains that more than half of the 613 Mitzvot depend solely on the Mikdash. This means that for close to 2000 years we are unable to fulfill the majority of Mitzvot. Therefore, we need the Beit HaMikdash in order to become spiritually healed and whole again.

The Mitzva to mourn on Tisha b'Av is only temporary, until it becomes a permanent day of joy in the Messianic Era as stated in Zacharia 8:19. Thus, Tisha b'Av is destined to be part of our Halachic tradition, but not as a day of eternal mourning. In Megilat Eicha, which is read on Tisha b'Av, Yirmiyahu (Eicha 1:15 and in 2:22) refers to Tisha b'Av as "Moed" (a Festival). That is why we don't say Tachanun and Selichot on Tisha b'Av (Shulchan Aruch 559:5).

What are the signs of the approaching Messianic Era? And how can we hasten Moshiach’s coming? The Talmud states that the Jews returning from exile and the turning of the land of Israel green is the key sign for the beginning of the Redemption. "There is no clearer sign then when the Land of Israel gives its produce abundantly, then the end of the exile is near, (Sanhedrin 98b, Rashi).

The Vilna Gaon told his disciples that Moshiach will come after the majority of the Jews in the Diaspora come to Israel. Thus, every Jew who makes Aliyah hastens the Moshiach’s coming, thereby transforming the Fast of Tisha b'Av into a Feast.

For close to 2000 years our land rejected all would-be conquerors and remained desolate and barren. The Sifra explains that the Torah's curse of the land during our long exile, "I will make the land desolate" (Parshat Bechukotai), is actually a blessing in disguise. Because we didn't have to worry when we went into exile that our enemies would settle our land. Therefore, the greening of Israel is a clear signal that G-d's decree of "desolation" for the land is over and the Redemption is near. The Land of Israel had to go into "hibernation," waiting for us, her children, to return from exile.

The prophet Yirmiyahu saw the coming Redemption of the Messianic Era and its celebration as being an even greater event than the Exodus from Egypt. As the Prophet says in Yirmiyahu l6:l4,l5 - "Days are coming, says Hashem, when it will no longer be said, ‘As Hashem lives Who took out Israel from Egypt’, but rather ‘As Hashem lives, Who took out Israel from all the lands where Hashem dispersed them.’ And Hashem will return them to their own land, which I gave to their forefathers."

According to HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu zt”l: and the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l (and many others), we are presently in the dawn of the Messianic Era. If Moshiach should arrive before Tisha b'Av, then we will be feasting and celebrating on that day, instead of mourning and fasting.


  1. Rav Chaim Kanievsky solemnly declared: "The coming of Moshiach is imminent and he is on his way... It is stated in the Talmud (Megillah 17b and Yerushalmi, Berachos 2:4) that after the conclusion of the shmittah year, Ben Dovid will come" (Yated Ne'eman, October 30, 2015/ 17 Cheshvan 5776 and

    Rav Chaim is saying the son of Dovid will come in 5777!

    Secondly, the Gemara (Kesubos 103b) states, “The tzaddik decrees and Hashem fulfills.”

    The last words Rav Chaim uttered about Moshiach was in July, one year ago: "All that can be done is to wait and anticipate the imminent arrival of Moshiach"(

  2. Hello Dear Reb Menachem. How are you? This post
    Remembers me a famous story about a tsaddeket woman. She's pregnant in the ninth month and very sick too. The doctor tells her there is no choice: kill the baby to let her survive. The reb be says it is according to the halakha too. The mother's life primes.But she refuses.And asks only for one thing: when he will grow and be at the age he could understand such things, tell him the story of my sacrifice and bring him to the cemetery to say kaddish on my grave. And so it was. He is now 16 years old. His father tells him all about his holy mother, what she did for him in order to let him live and grow in Torah and mitzvot and they go to the cemetery. .. Surprise for everyone present there.He doesn't cry or even look a little bit sad.So he says he knows everybody here expected to see me cry but as a man of truth I ask how do you want me to cry for a respectable woman who is my mother but I didn't see at least for one second in my life...
    So is our Beit Hamikdash. Before it's destruction it was all our life and the life of the future generations. When Israel sinned, instead of destroying Am Israel Hashem turned his wrath on "wood and stones" and sacrified the holy temple, our source of life, purification and redemption, in order to keep us alive until we do tshuva for sin' at hinam sin and deserve the final redemption ... We don't know and cannot imagine what was the life with beit Hamikdash. The power of korban tamid everyday.The feeling of going to sleep clean of all sins every night. ..But at least we can remember every year in those days we lost something very essential and precious that is the source of our strength and faith until today.
    Sorry for my English. And thank you reb Menachem for your precious and amazing devotion to the others. Since my last visit in Beitar I miss you but you're so busy that it's almost impossible to contact you by phone. See you soon in Beit Hamikdash BH.Itzhak. Yerushalaim. ..

    1. Thank you so much for this inspiring comment.

      It was Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, zt"l who said: because we don't remember the Beis Hamikdash and can't come to tears, it should make us so sad, that we should cry that we don't remember and can't come to tears.

      I am never too busy that I don't have time for you. Please, if you know that you will be in the area, Email me and I will call you.

  3. Read "Anticipating the Redemption and Yearning for Moshiach":

  4. Israel's poverty rates are higher than in all other developed countries, and income inequality is second only to the United States within the OECD, a club for wealthier nations. Just 20 percent of the population pays 90 percent of the income tax.

    1. The statistics of Israel are greatly distorted by the secular world. They include the propaganda of the Arab population that receive great sums of money that are pocketed by their evil leaders. The world complains about how Israel treats the Gaza population, yet there are actually about six hundred millionaires in Gaza. The Hamas leaders pocket much money while their population lives in poverty -- it is great propaganda. Are you aware of the many luxury hotels in Gaza or the very well stocked malls or the beautiful water slide park?

      We have the same propaganda in the Arab cities in Judea and Samaria where the PA does a good job of pocketing the money. Remember Arafat who died a billionaire and his friend Abbas who is also very wealthy, while they both cry poverty for their people.

      "Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot." You will find the Jews who have the least are some of the happiest in Israel. I know I live in one of the poorest towns in Israel whose families are helped to a great extent. Jews help Jews; that is the way of Hashem. It is the way in observant Torah communities, but it comes across as a bad statistic to the Jew-hating world.

      We have certainly heard enough messages from Rabbaim and the FC individuals how it is time to stop building the Golden Calf. This world is so bad off because it is built on the materialism, the Golden Calf, as the standard for success.

      Fortunately, the observant Torah community lives much more by Hashem's spiritual word, rather than man's materialistic standards. That is the future and it is so nice to be in a community that is living the absolute truth.

      I have much proof of what I am saying, so please don't come back with the distorted statistics of the Jew-hating world.