Tens of thousands of Israeli Jews gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday to mark Tisha B'Av and publicly mourn the loss of Israel's ancient temples and the "Exile of the Divine Presence."
Millions more Jews from Israel and around the world joined in by reciting prayers of lamentation.
But Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the Temple Institute of Jerusalem, insists the time has come to stop mourning and to turn Tisha B'Av into a day of yearning and anticipatory prayer, especially in light of the rebirth of the State of Israel.
"Tisha B'Av was not intended to be a day of perpetual mourning, but rather, a bridge to the future; the yearning and desire which our mourning inspires is designed to motivate us to rebuild," Richman wrote on the Temple Institute website.
Richman noted that while at least half of all Israelis want to rebuild the Temple, "we hear many excuses, such as 'who are we to rebuild the Temple? We are not ready. The time has not yet come. The Temple is a thing of the past.'"
But, the rabbi explained, this is not different than the attitude of the people of Israel during the time of the prophet Haggai, who urged the rebuilding of the Temple following the end of the Babylonian exile. "Thus said the Lord of Hosts: This nation has said, 'the time has not yet come.' But I say, it is time for the Temple of God to be rebuilt!" (Haggai 1)
"The renewal of Israel and the building of the Holy Temple is a process that has begun and is now unstoppable," concluded Richman. "This nation is preparing to 'rise up like a lion' (Numbers 23:24). We are moving ever closer to the day on which we can truly say, without jaded cynicism or facetiousness but with true sincerity, that Tisha B'Av is no longer relevant, for it will have turned into a day of gladness."
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