A Tisha b'Av Question

Real questions, submitted by actual OU Torah followers, with their real answers. NOTE: For questions of practical halacha, please consult your own rabbi for guidance.

Q. I'm 18 years old. Baruch Hashem, I'm a yeshiva bochur, but like many others, having a hard time with Tisha B'Av and mourning for the Beis HaMikdash and the other things we're supposed to weep for. I wonder if you can help me with this.

A. Thanks for your question. I assure you that you're not alone in this issue. Let me ask you this: how would you feel if the Kotel were, God forbid, destroyed? I assume you'd feel pretty bad. After all, it's an important religious site where Jews of all backgrounds gather to pour their hearts out and feel close to God. Well, the Kotel was the smallest, least significant part of the Temple complex - when the Temple was standing, you wouldn't have given it a second thought! If we so highly value the .0005 percent of the Mikdash we have left, shouldn't we mourn the 99.9995% that we lost?

To use a metaphor, imagine a boy whose grandfather left him an inexpensive tin keychain. It's the boy's prized possession and he keeps it in a safe place. It has great emotional value and he would be devastated if he lost it because it's the last thing he has left of his grandfather. Well, for our purposes the keychain is the Kotel and the grandfather is the Mikdash. As attached as we are to the remnant, we should certainly miss and long for what was destroyed.

It's not just about the destruction of the Mikdash, though. The exile came with a tremendous loss of life and Torah. You'll see a lot of Holocaust-themed programming on Tisha b'Av because the two events are comparable, we just relate to the Holocaust better because of its proximity. But as devastating as the loss of entire communities in Europe was, the destruction of Jerusalem made an even greater and longer-lasting impact.

Rabbi Jack's latest book, Ask Rabbi Jack, is now available from Kodesh Press and on Amazon.com.