This Wednesday night, we will observe Tisha B’av, the day on which both of our holy temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. It is a time of sadness, mourning, and reflection.
It’s really almost impossible to feel true sadness and loss for a Temple that has been gone for nearly 2ooo years. No one ever seen or experienced it, and only a select few even study the details of its sacrificial service. How then can we be expected to mourn its loss?
Our sages realized the difficulty in truly mourning for the Temple, and therefore, gave us laws that practically force us to feel like mourners. In the week preceding Tisha B’av (nine days for Ashkenazim), the halacha prohibits drinking wine, eating meat, wearing new or freshly laundered clothing, bathing for pleasure, and shaving and haircuts. On the day of Tisha B’av, we are prohibited from eating, drinking, bathing, wearing leather shoes, using ointments and perfumes, and marital relations. Even the study of Torah, which gladdens the heart, is prohibited.
Observing these laws allow us to focus on mourning and to reflect on what we are lacking and what we have lost. In the merit of our cries and prayers, may we be privelaged to see the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.