Since the 9th day of Av fell yesterday, on Shabbat when we do not mourn, the fast itself was deferred to today, beginning last night at sundown and finishing at sundown tonight. Tisha Be’Av, the 9th day of the month of Av, is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. As I wrote in a previous Tisha Be’Av post:
The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem as well as a whole slew of tragic events that befell the Jewish people on that day:
These include the capture of Bethar, which marked the final defeat of Bar Kokhba‘s rebellion against the Romans, and the razing of Jerusalem by the Romans. The edict of King Edward I compelling the Jews of England to leave the country was signed on the ninth of Av in 1290, the Jews were expelled from Spain on that day in 1492, and World War I broke out in 1914. The sadness and mourning that Jews feel on this day are reflected in the various practices of Tisha B’Av, including abstaining from joyous activities like study of Torah, from eating and drinking, from sexual activity, and from wearing leather.
You can read a chronology of the major events leading up to the Churban (the destruction of the Temples and Jerusalem) at the link.
Even though we are now privileged to live in the reborn State of Israel, under Jewish Israeli sovereign rule, free to worship as we please and to live as Jews free in our land, there are still plenty of reasons for us to mourn the as-yet unfulfilled Geula (Redemption), and while we are certainly witnessing the “footsteps of Redemption” we are not quite there yet.
We do not have sovereignty on the Temple Mount, it is not “in our hands” as Gen. Motta Gur famously declared in the Six day War. The Muslim Waqf has control, and the Israeli government and police so often cravenly cave in to their demands to limit Jewish prayer there.
We saw this today, when the Muslims realised that Tisha B’Av, being deferred by a day, coincided with their Id Al-Adha festival. So what do good Muslims do on a festival? Well, they don’t celebrate, that’s for sure! What they do so well, and they showed us today in live technicolour action, is to riot. Their aim – to prevent any Jews from going up to the Har Habayit. If any Jews get hurt or killed in the process, that’s a bonus as far as they are concerned.
The Waqf announced yesterday that it was bringing forward their Id al-Adha prayers davka in order to prevent Jews from going up. The police, as expected, closed the Temple Mount to Jewish worshippers, much to everyone’s fury. But after a few hours, where the Jewish worshippers were confined to the Mugrabi bridge for hours in the hot sun, everyone fasting and therefore suffering from the heat, the gates were opened. The Muslims hadn’t had enough of their rioting and began all over again. However this time the police repelled the Muslim rioters with tear gas and stun grenades. It made for a surreal picture, of Jewish worshippers peacefully walking and looking at their holiest site (G-d forbid they should try and pray! They will be ejected immediately if not arrested!), while the Muslims were screaming and destroying on the other side.
The Jewish Press published this short video of the Jews ascending to the Har Habayit as the Arabs are rioting in the background, and then you hear the sounds of tear gas grenades:
Their article reports:
The Israeli government and Jerusalem police initially banned Jews from visiting the Temple Mount on Sunday morning, during the mourning day of Tisha B’Av (9th of Av) on which the destruction of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem is commemorated.
The police announced they were shutting down the holy site to Jews as the Muslims were celebrating the holiday of Eid al-Adha (based on the biblical sacrifice of Isaac, though they claim the protagonist was Ishmael), and they feared that the throngs of Muslims would clash with the Jews.
Muslim leaders over the weekend called on Jerusalem’s Muslims to attend prayers at the Temple Mount and ensure that Jews could not visit the site during their day of national mourning. They began their prayers an hour later than usual to ensure that the Muslim masses would still be on the site.
Scores of Jews stood at the entrance to the Temple Mount for hours while fasting, waiting for the police to admit them.
UPDATE: Just before 11 AM, police finally permitted a group of Jews to enter the Temple Mount for a quick visit a mere 200 meters onto the Jewish holy site, as Arabs rioted in the background.
After a few minutes, the police once again shut down the site to Jews, as the Arab riots increased in intensity.
The police tried again, and let in an unusually large group with Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, while the Arabs were rioting.
Video by Michael Miller:
The police commander explained their decision to temporarily close the Mount to Jewish visitors:
Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Yedid addressed Sunday afternoon the ongoing riots on the Temple Mount as well as the decision to allow Jews to ascend to the holy site.
Yedid made it clear that the decision to allow Jews to ascend the Temple Mount despite the Muslim sacrifice of Eid al-Adha does not violate the status quo.
“I don’t recognize the concept of s ‘status quo,'” Yedid said. “From the day I first came to know this place, the [Muslim] holiday morning prayer begins at 6:30 AM. Miraculously they changed the prayer to 7:30 in the morning. Isn’t that a change in the status quo?”
“When we realized that everything was heading to the prevention of Jewish ascension by a handful of people, we used force, dispersed them and allowed the Jews to ascend.”
To my mind, while this might sound like a reasonable explanation, this is nothing less than a total surrender to the corrupt, antisemitic, racist Waqf. It is a national and religious disgrace!
You can see that the rioting continued even as the Jews left the Temple Mount:
The Muslim “narrative”, in which Jerusalem and the Har Habayit belongs to them, is actually a load of rubbish. Listen to Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Middle East expert, explaining the real history:
If this is not enough to convince people of the Jewish nation’s long connection to Jerusalem, Lenny ben-David, who runs the extraordinary Picture a Day website with ancient photographs of the Holy Land, brings us some wonderful historical pictures of Jerusalem:
The American Colony photographers also sought out sites showing remnants of the Jewish Temples. After an earthquake destroyed much of the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in 1927, a photographer took photos beneath the rubble. It appears incontrovertible that the pictures were of Temple remains.
One of the biggest mysteries of the American Colony photographs is a photo taken in 1898 and entitled “Ash heaps from Temple sacrifices.”
Research into ancient Jewish texts, including the Mishna, confirms that the ashes and remains of the sacrifices were transported to a site north of the city not far from today’s Damascus Gate. The area has been built over in the last 100 years, but the photograph confirms the Temple ritual.
This is fascinating stuff which I had never heard of before. Go and explore the website, it’s riveting!
Besides mourning the destruction of Jerusalem, we need to look around us and take heart in the vibrant, thriving, exciting city that is modern Jerusalem today. What would our ancestors have made of this modern-day miracle? And of course not only Jerusalem but the entire State of Israel, with its medical, technological, agricultural and cultural innovations, a country where half the world’s Jews now live, and where there is more Torah learning that at any time in Jewish history. This is an unprecedented time in Jewish history, one which we must give thanks to Hashem for every day.
As if to confirm Biblical prophecies, in the last few weeks, foxes have been seen walking around at the Kotel:
The Yeshiva World explains:
The scene immediately reminds one of the famous Gemara.
It would seem that the appearance of these foxes in contemporary times is indicative of a similar consolation – a message sent to us from Hashem not to worry that the prophet of Zechariah will soon be fulfilled!
The Talmud (Makos 24b) relates as follows:
Once, Rabbi Gamliel, Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva were arising to Yerushalayim. At the point where they had reached Har HaBayis they observed a fox that exited from the Kodshei Kadoshim [The Holy of Holies]. The others were crying, but Rabbi Akiva was laughing. They asked of him: Why are you laughing? He responded, why are you crying?
They said to him, “A place upon which it is written – ‘and the stranger that approaches shall surely die’ and now that foxes have overridden it – we should not cry?”
He said to them: That is precisely why I am laughing! The verse tied the prophecy of Zechariah with the prophecy of Uriah. Regarding Uriah it is written, “therefore because of you Zion shall be a field that is threshed.” In the book of Zechariah it is written, “Older men and older women shall yet sit in the streets of Yerushalayim. Until the prophecy of Uriah would be fulfilled I was afraid that the prophecy of Zechariah would not necessarily be fulfilled. Now that the prophecy of Uriah has been fulfilled – it is known and established that the prophecy of Zechariah is being fulfilled!
They responded to him, “Akiva – you have consoled us! Akiva – you have consoled us!”
And The Jerusalem Post adds:
It is written in the Book of Lamentations (5:18), which is read on Tisha Be’Av, that Mount Zion – where the Temples stood – will be so desolate that “foxes will walk upon it.” The understanding, according to the Talmud in the tractate Makkot (24b), is that if the prophecies of destruction have been fulfilled, so will be the ones by the prophet Zechariah about the Temple being rebuilt.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, referred to photos of the foxes and commented, “One cannot refrain from crying at the site of the fulfillment of the prophecy of ‘foxes will walk on it.’”
May the sight of these foxes signify that the Geulah, the Redemption, is upon us.
כל המתאבל על ירושלים זוכה ורואה בשמחתה
Those who mourn Jerusalem will merit to see her in her joy