The Jewish Blog of Why: Why Do We Mourn the Destruction of an Ancient Temple?

By Rabbi Jonny Roodyn

Today, Tisha B’Av is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. We commemorate the destruction of two Temples by refraining from eating and drinking and behave as like mourners by sitting on the floor, refraining from wearing leather shoes, marital relations, washing and beautifying ourselves. Understandably many people cannot understand what all the fuss is about and feel that it is time to let bygones by bygones. 

The Holy Temples in Jerusalem are meant to be a place where all of mankind can come and learn about universal values of peace, wisdom and morality. It was not only a Jewish house of prayer, but a place for all of humanity. The loss of the Temples and the exile of the Jewish people made it much harder for mankind to access these messages. The Jewish people have paid an enormous price for holding true to our values, for being the bearers of an important message of morality for all of mankind. On Tisha B’Av we focus on this pain, we weep tears for all the bloodshed, forced conversions, expulsions and suffering that we have endured. 

The following apocryphal story is told of the great French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte. He once was travelling through a small Jewish town in Europe. He entered a synagogue. There he saw an incredible sight. Men and women weeping. They were sitting on the floor on small stools holding candles while reading from books. The synagogue had an elaborate chandelier but only a few candles were lit. If not for the small candle lights the magnificent synagogue would have been in complete darkness. It was a gloomy and sad sight to behold. 

Napoleon asked why the people were weeping and wanted to know what misfortune had happened here. An enlightened Jewish French officer told him that nothing new and terrible had happened. The Jewish people had a custom to gather once a year on a day called the ninth day of Av, the day that marks the destruction of the Jewish people's Temple. Twice they built a magnificent Temple in Jerusalem and both were destroyed. After their second Temple was destroyed the people were scattered all over the world and sold as slaves. Some escaped and built their homes world over. Somehow the Jewish people exist without their country and their Temple.

In order to commemorate these sad events they gather once a year in synagogue. There they fast, pray, and read sad prophetic writings concerning the destruction of their Temple and land. What we see in this town is happening in all Jewish communities.

Napoleon inquired as to how many years have they been doing this and was over 2000 years. Upon hearing this Napoleon exclaimed, "A nation that cries and fasts for over 2,000 years for their land and Temple will surely be rewarded with their Temple."

Tisha B’Av is a day to reflect on the pain and suffering that the Jewish people have endured since the birth of our people. When we choose to block out or ignore pain we are unable to learn positive lessons from it either.

On Tisha B’Av we allow ourselves to shed a tear, but never a tear of despair, only from the wellsprings of hope for a better future.

- May 15th 2012

About the Author

Aish UK

More in this series

Aish UK Purim Shpiel 2021

Not all HEROES wear capes..

EVIL Genius or MISUNDERSTOOD Scoundrel?!

National TREASURE or DELUDED Dictator?!

Be Part of Something BIG | Aish UK Social Media | Official Trailer

Winners and Losers of the Israel-UAE Peace Agreement

What Are You Looking Forward To in the Jewish New Year?

What Are You Looking Forward to Next Year?

The BLACK EYED PEAS and Rosh Hashanah!?

SHOFAR TEST

How Would You Describe Judaism to an Alien?

Nine Days of #Memories: Tisha B'av in Lockdown

What Is the Largest Animal You Could Knock Over?

SUPERSIZE MY SEDER - Horseradish Explosion

Coronavirus Update from Aish UK

What is the most commonly bought item in a Jewish grocery store?

The Online Courses of Aish UK | Official Trailer | Maven

Mystery Doughnut Challenge

Poland to Israel | An Aish Experience

Top Ten Quotes About Israel

Supersize My Seder - Man vs Matza

Supersize My Seder - The Four Cups

Top 25 Pesach Memes!

Conservative vs Labour Bake Off!

Chassidic Jews Hear About Shabbat UK

Shabbatman!

Becoming a Solider

Pittsburgh Shooting

Aish UK is Evolving...

Ashkenazi VS Sephardi Jews 2 - FOOD FIGHT!

Ashkenazi vs Sephardi Part 1 - War of Words

Supersize My Seder - The Hillel Sandwich

Chodesh Tov!

Choose Life!

Pearls of Wisdom

Bobby's Story

All You Wanted To Know About: 17th Tammuz

Yom Kippur: The Day of Forgiveness

The Jewish Blog of Why: Why Do We Blow the Shofar in Elul?

The Jewish Blog of Why: Intro

The Jewish Blog of Why: Jerusalem

The Jewish Blog of Why: Why Wear a Kippa?

The Jewish Blog of Why: Why Do We Bless Our Food?

The Jewish Blog of Why: Why Do We Fast on the 17th of Tammuz

The Jewish Blog of Why: Why do we observe the Three Weeks?

The Jewish Blog of Why: Why Do We Mourn the Destruction of an Ancient Temple?

All You Wanted To Know About: Tisha B'Av

The Jewish Blog of Why: Why Do We Celebrate Rosh Hashanah?

The Jewish Blog of Why: Why Don't We Eat on Yom Kippur

The Jewish Blog of Why: Why Do We Read The Book of Kohelet on Sukkot?

The 3 Weeks: The Power of Speech

What's a Jew?

Related resources

Responsibility - The Impossible Dream

By- Rabbi Eli Birnbaum

Veyachi: The Power of Positivity

By- Rabbi Dovid Lichtig

I Closed My Eyes….

By- Rabbi Eli Birnbaum

Do Not Disturb

By- Rebbetzin Shalvie Friedman

Vayishlach – Your Money or Your Life?

By- Rabbi Moshe Friedman (Rav Mo)

An Article on Gratitude

By- Rebbetzin Adina Strom

Vayera: Existence, Non-Existence and the Love of Justice

By- Rabbi Daniel Rowe

Four More Years! Make “US” Great Again

By- Rabbi Gideon Goldwater

Noach: Is Building an Ark Enough?

By- Rabbi Daniel Rowe

Are YOU relevant in a post-COVID world?

By- Steve Herz

Spirituality in the Postmodern World

By- Rabbi Dovid Lichtig

A Vision of Leadership

By- Shira Druion

The Fourteen Step Journey

By- Rabbi Daniel Rowe

Winners and Losers of the Israel-UAE Peace Agreement

By- Aish UK

Journey through Despair

By- Rabbi Daniel Rowe

An Exclusive Interview with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

By- Rabbi Ari Kayser

The Sound of Music

By- Rabbi Ari Kayser

Trial by Twitter

By- Rabbi Eli Birnbaum

Exploring Rosh Hashana

By- Rabbi Daniel Rowe

What Exactly Gets Weighed on Rosh Hashanah?

By- Rabbi Daniel Rowe

Copyright © Aish UK