Today is a day of mourning. We cry for the destruction of our Temples and other tragedies that befell us. But today is also a day of repentance and introspection. Today we need to ask ourselves a pointing question: ekha, which means "How". How did all this happen? How did it happen that we lost our Bet haMiqdash? How did it happen that our God abandoned us and did not protect us from our enemies?
The Rabbis explained that at the time of the destruction of the First Bet haMiqdash (ca. 586 BCE) the Jews were engaged in the three capital sins: idolatry, murder and promiscuity. Eventually, after 70 years in exile they came back to HaShem. They repented. They changed their behavior. And HaShem accepted their Teshuba and granted them the opportunity to build the Second Bet haMiqdash.
The second Bet haMikdash was destroyed almost 2000 years ago (68 ACE). The Rabbis explained that the Jews of that time were meticulously observant of all ritual laws. But they hated each other (sin-at Hiram). They would humiliate each other publicly and no one would react to defend the victim. They would speak Lashon haRa (slander), sowing the seeds of hostility against each other without any remorse. They would show disrespect and intolerance. They were jealous of each other and divided among themselves.
This behavior caused the Presence of God to abandon us. Without God's Presence the Bet haMiqdash was just a shaky structure of bricks and stones. A fragile house or cards that would inevitably collapse. Without God's Presence we were an easy prey to our eternal enemies. But we caused the Presence of God to leave.
Now, we still don't have our Third Bet haMiqdash. We have not have a divine-guided opportunity to restore the House of haShem. Is that because this time God is rejecting our repentance? Or perhaps because we have not repented yet, and we are still engaged in the same type of sins our ancestors practiced 2000 years ago.
Have we corrected our social misdeeds? Have we become intolerant of injustice, slander, senseless hatred and endless divisions? Or perhaps all these terrible sins have become an acceptable behavior. Our new normal.
Certainly, only when we will become more united, tolerant and respectful of each other haShem will forgive us, embrace us again and lead us to rebuild the Third Bet haMiqdash.
It all starts by realizing that it is up to us.
May we all have an easy and meaningful fast day
Due to the expected hot weather in NY today people are advised to take extra precautions to prevent dehydration. Avoid exposure to the sun or heat. Symptoms of dehydration are: vomiting, feeling very nauseated or very weak or light headed, despite lying down. If you feel any symptom of dehydration you should break the fast immediately.
See here who is exempt from fasting on Tish'a be-Ab?
See here "Restrictions on Tish'a be-Ab" (part 1)
See here "Restrictions on Tish'a be-Ab" (part 2)
See here "What happened on Tish'a be-Ab?