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Monday, Menachem Av 6, 5780 / July 27, 2020


We are now in the Hebrew month of Menachem Av. Wednesday night (July 29) & Thursday (July 30) is the fast of Tisha B’Av - the ninth day of Av. Tisha B'Av we fast and mourn the destruction of the Two Holy Temples in Jerusalem.


Our sages say, "When the month of Av enters we minimize in happiness." Thus, during the first nine days of the month, until after Tisha B'Av, we don't celebrate or engage in joyous activities.


The First Temple, which was built by King Solomon, stood for 410 years and was destroyed on the 9th of Av, by Nebuchadnetzar, king of Babylon.


The Second Temple stood for 420 years and was also destroyed on the 9th of Av, close to 500 years after the destruction of the First Temple.


Both Temples were destroyed on the 9th of Av, as a result of the sins of the Jewish people. Yet, our sages draw an important distinction between the sins which caused the destruction of the first Temple and the sins which caused the destruction of the second Temple.


Our sages say that the First Temple was destroyed due to the sin of idol worship. The Jewish people strayed from worshipping G-d and turned to worship all kinds of idols.  The sin which caused the destruction of the Second Temple was "Sinat Chinam" - "unjust hatred" amongst Jews themselves.


Idol worship is one of the gravest sins in the Torah.  Indeed, the second commandment of the Ten Commandments is the prohibition against idol worship. The sin of idol worship is so severe that even when one is given the choice of worshipping an idol or being killed, they should die and not worship the idol. Yet, seventy years after the first Temple was destroyed, G-d forgave them and let them return to rebuild the Temple.


But the Second Temple, which was destroyed for the sin of hatred amongst Jews, has not yet been rebuilt after two thousand years!


This teaches us how great is the sin of strife amongst ourselves and how important is the mitzvah of "Ahavat Yisrael" - Love amongst our people


Thus, during this week of Tisha B'Av, it is customary to enhance our love for each other through acts of kindness and the distribution of extra charity to help the poor and needy


We pray that through "Ahavat Yisrael" and the performance of these mitzvot, we will merit the third Holy Temple - with the coming of Moshiach.  May it be speedily in our days.  Amen.




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