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There is mourning and remembering, but there is also hope that we can, and should, bring light to the future

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The Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem | Photo: Laura Siegal (Unsplash)

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There are a few words, that when I utter them, I wonder how many Jews have said them before:

“May the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days.”

What have those words witnessed?

Were those words said hurriedly in the mossy forests of Shoah-era Poland? Did they echo off the walls of the gas chambers?

Did those words tumble around the mouths of Israeli soldiers fighting for their country in the Six Day War? Did those words sweat in the heat of the burning holy Temple, whispered by those exiled Jews watching in horror?

Never will I forget that letter I read: I remember looking at it in disbelief, sitting behind the glass of a museum exhibit. It was written by an eleventh-century Jew who was destined to be killed hours later by crusaders. “It is rumored that the crusaders are coming to our town,” he wrote, “May God have mercy on our souls! May the Holy Temple be speedily rebuilt in our days!” Never have a people waited so long for anything; never have they been so sure.

Two thousand years after the Roman legions razed the holy Temple to the ground, beginning the exile, we Jews still endure now. We are commanded to mourn over the decimation of a million of our people, and the destruction of our Temple.

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Known as the “three weeks,” beginning on the seventeenth of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, and ending on the ninth of Av, Jews commemorate several tragedies.

During this time, the spies sent by Moses to scout the land came back with a slanderous report of Israel, leading to the death of a whole generation of Jewish men.

It was during these three weeks that Shimon Bar Kochba (early second century CE) proved to be a false messiah, losing the battle of Beitar, which lead to an ancient day Holocaust. Additionally, it was during the three weeks that the Jews were expelled from both England and France in the thirteenth century.

Finally, during the three weeks, the Germans, in 1914 declared war on Russia, effectively beginning both the first and second world wars, which lead to the greatest human atrocity of all time, the murder of six million of our brethren.

As I sit here, the words of King David come to me “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, we also wept when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137).

Overlooking the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem

Although I was not there, the memory lives in the collective mind I share with my people. Exiled from our land, we sat weeping by the rivers of Babylon, the golden city that captured our hearts burned into our memory.

And so we Jews mourn. And I wonder what to say to those who look to me for inspiration. Will we ever move on from this? Will we always mourn? Will we forever sway from the nausea of slaughter? Will our relationship with God forever be stained with blood? King David continues, questioning me “how shall we sing the song of the Lord on foreign soil?” (Psalm 137).

And in a sudden shift of focus, I respond confidently, “I will rebuild the Temple here and the soil will be foreign no more.”

With the destruction of the Holy Temple, God was both asking, and demanding, that His presence be felt not only in Jerusalem but throughout the entire world.

During the three weeks, we must heed that call, in every way we can, to make all soil, the entire earth, a Temple where God can be found.

So yes, we mourn over the destruction of the two Holy Temples, but we are busy building the third. Yes, we must acknowledge and understand the darkness, but we are occupied with working the light. Although our history is that of tragedy, our future is filled with happiness and promise.

Just as we have not forgotten God after years of tragedy and suffering, so too He has not forgotten us; we are in God’s mind as much as He is in ours. In the words of our holy prophets, “Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, the Lord, your God, will gather you from there, and He will take you from there.” (Deut. 30:4)

Rochel Leah Boteach is the force behind The Thirsty Souls. A fierce advocate for female Torah scholarship and leadership, she created her page determined to teach Torah to all people in all places. She is on a mission to nourish and nurture a living, breathing Judaism for all.

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Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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