No weddings. No music. No haircuts. No new clothes.
What a glum time of the year! Each year, I dread it and can’t wait until it’s over. This is the time known as the “Three Weeks” or Bein Hametzarim, when we recall the destruction of our holy Temple in Jerusalem.
I’m not sure we all appreciate what it is that we’re supposed to mourn. Surely it must have been glorious to have a central Shul in Jerusalem, where miracles unfolded daily and you would always leave feeling inspired. But, we are used to finding G-d with us wherever we go and are certain we can connect to Him anywhere.
Are we simply mourning a beautiful building?
People often imagine that Jews visited the Temple because it was a holy place. Actually, the Temple became a holy place because Jews visited it. Our Temple fell because our People had fallen. Every crack in the fibre of our society manifested as a crack in those powerful walls. Jewish unity held that Temple together and disunity destroyed it.
Our Temple was an icon of G-d, His people, goodness and peace. With the Temple gone, the world forgot G-d, abused His people, allowed evil to flourish and went to war after war. All of that happened because we were not whole. When Jews are united, G-d is with us. When we are divided, He steps away.
These three weeks are not a time to cry over what we have lost. They are a time a to think about what we can regain. This is a time for unity. Our sages describe how King David lost many righteous men in battle because they were disrespectful to each other, while the wicked king Achav did not lose soldiers because they were unified.
Now is the time to connect with each other, to end a faribel or to do something to help one another. Jewish unity is our single most important responsibility. It will change us, change our community and heal our world.
Please G-d, we should enjoy the restoration of our national unity and, through it, the restoration of our Temple, which will bring world peace, with Moshiach now.