The nature of the 9th of Av and the days leading up to it can only be described as one of dread. It is a time when “exaggerated vision” comes into motion. The overstressing, overestimating, amplified by the essence of judgment on this date give it the title “catastrophic times”. Truly it is time of calamity for the Jewish people, a time that signifies the meltdown of The Kingdom of Israel in Israel and the staggering blows they have had to face since then.
It was on this date that the spies that were sent by Moses came back with a “bad report” about the Land of Israel. It brought fear into the hearts of Am Yisrael upon hearing the intensified stories of a land that eats its inhabitants. When the spies made the people panic, they said they wanted to go back into exile- to Egypt. They didn’t want the land G-d promised them. This was more than an offense to the Shechinah. This reaction of “exaggerated vision” deformed that generation and most of them died in the desert. The 9th of Av signifies multiple severities. This was the very day, in more ancient a time, at the beginning of the foundation Am Yisrael, when Yosef was thrown into the pit and sold for 4 pairs of shoes. In the not so distant past, the Jews of Gush Katif were thrown out of their kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, babies grabbed out of their cribs and tens of synagogues bulldozed to the ground. Under the influence of the element of fire, the symbol of Divine severity, again the brothers were sold. But instead of 4 pairs of shoes only rockets launched unto Israel’s southern cities. 4 years later, most of these people STILL have no permanent homes. Eicha!!!
We learn that sinat chinam(hatred for no reason) was the reason for the destruction of the Holy Temple, which in fact happened on this day precisely both times (first and second temples). 14 million Jewish people lost their lives in the Holocaust that banished them from their land. A year later, exactly on this date, a pagan Temple was erected on the Temple Mount. While the survivors were being taken to exile and sold as slaves they were forced to run and not shed a tear. If they over-rode those rules they were put immediately to death. (Therefore the verse: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and also wept when we remembered Zion”.)
If on Pesach we eat Matzah, and on Sukkot we sit in booths, on the 9th of Av we are commanded to shed a tear. We today, who stand in the field of view in the renewed State of Israel, at the time that prophesies, are unfolding every moment MUST pray for unity, brotherly love, protection, and that the knowledge of Hashem’s word will reach the far distant corners of the world, and into the hearts of our leaders and kinsmen. We pray for a turning of the tables. We pray that Mashiach who is born on the 9th of Av will come as a perfect leader and redeem the world. As we shed a tear about the past, let us rectify our vision for the future in loving our fellow man and building the Land in these merits.
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith