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The Saddest Day of the Year

On Tisha Baav we mourn the loss of the Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) that was destroyed
thousands of years ago, but in reality we are mourning all the subsequent losses that came as the
And our understanding is that history doesnt just happen. We are partners in creating it. In some
way, the Jewish exile, the wandering from country to country, the antisemitism, and even global
events are within our circle of influence.
The Holy Temple was destroyed because of sinas chinam baseless hatred. The Temple was G-ds
home, where His presence rested. It was our home, where we came to serve Him, to bask in His
closeness. It gave us purpose and direction; it gave us unity and honor.
Somehow within that, we lost our direction. We had this beautiful structure, we were pampered with
the music and rituals of the Beis Hamikdash and we lost our way. We forgot that it was about unity
and we thought it was about religion. We forgot that it was about G-d and we thought that it was
about society.
G-d is One. Society is pieces. Its a fractured mess of sections and subsections where people try to
find their place by carving out a line between us and them. Its a search for identity beyond the only
identity that matters; that we are all (the whole world) children of Hashem and that the Jewish
people is a family.
On Tisha Baav we mourn. We sit on the floor. We dont eat, we dont drink, we dont bathe, we sleep
without pillows and we think. We think about what we lost and why. We think about how to fix it and

how to fix the world.

Sometimes people say, I cant mourn over the Beis Hamikdash, it seems so far away. I want to feel
Tisha Baav, but I just cant. This is normal. G-d understands the limits of our imagination. He
understands that we cannot mourn what we havent felt.
What Hes asking us is this: look at the world and miss ME. Miss seeing me in the perfect Jerusalem
sky, that is now clouded with memories of blood and war. Miss me when you meet a fellow Jew and
instead of acknowledging your shared memories and ties, you walk right past them. Miss me in the
faces of children that are being hurt and in adults who are lonely beyond belief. Miss my presence.
Yearn for me to return to your midst.
Be brave, be vulnerable. On all other days, go about the business of fixing the world; toil hard, do
good deeds. But on this day, remove that tough shell that lets you listen to news that broadcasts
killings and rapings. Remove the tough shell that lets you ignore the brokenness and
misunderstandings. Be soft, be open; FEEL.
In that feeling is unity. We are all in the same exile. We all share one G-d. We are all one family. We
all want better things for this world. Its a simple thing; this FEELING that Im asking, but its not
easy. It takes courage. Only those who risk getting hurt, can truly love.
For twelve hours we hurt. We let the wounds bleed. And then, midday on Tisha Baav, we literally get
up, and we begin to sew the stitches. We daven mincha (pray the afternoon prayer) with a sense that
we have been to Hell and come back wiser. We watch videos or hear stories lectures about kindness
and not judging and of ways to fix our world.

And though were too weak to go out and do, the words and the day penetrate our soft, open heart
and then prepare us for the battle ahead. Beyond the words; the day itself, stokes that eternal flame
in heart; that remembering flame.
The flame that unites us, the flame that stayed lit through exiles, inquisitions and pogroms. The
flame that stayed lit through Communist Russia where we were sent to Siberia for learning Torah
and Muslim Iran where Jewish boys were specifically recruited to the front lines at the age of 15 to
be disposable pawns in a war between two dictators.
This flame has stayed lit through a Holocaust worse than any nightmare you could conjure and
through rebirth in Israel where the price for wanting to come home was blood; ships of survivors
sunk by the British because they didnt want more Jews in the Jewish land.
It stays lit now. Where Israel, our idealistic, beautiful country has been forced to put on uniforms
and send young men and women out to war to protect our basic right to live and love. It shines
despite the injustice of being cast as a persecutor in a fight we dont even want.

It stays lit as more and more people learn Torah and embrace their Jewish heritage. In fact, it is this
Torah that fuels the flame. It creates light and heals the world, it creates energy and empowers us:
emboldens us to make the world a better place.
And this is the battle we commit to as Tisha Baav winds to a close. To not only yearn for the Temple
but to create a world where it exists once again. Its the end of the day of mourning but the
beginning of a whole new era.
We commit to forgiving one another. We commit to stop being petty. We commit to our Jewish
Family. To love more deeply and to give more freely and to do everything in our power to create the
kind of unity that will bring the Redemption we so badly crave.
Together with you this Tisha Baav,
Rivka Malka