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The Ninth of Av: A Festival

Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22 )

by Rabbi Ron Jawary

The Ninth of Av commemorates all of the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people in general, and the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in particular.

The Temple was symbolic of our connection to God, and its destruction symbolized the loss of that connection. Interestingly, in the middle of the day's liturgy, there is a line that describes the day as a festival, a moed. The Talmud understands this to mean that, despite the sadness of the day, it still has the potential to be a day full of joy. The way to change this day from a day of sadness, i.e. a lack of connection, to a day of joy, or connection, is to be aware that the real tragedy the Jewish Nation faces is our lack of unity. The focus of this day needs to be on our attitude toward each other.

If we see the good in others and realize that they have the same rights that we do, and look after those who are less fortunate than us, we will merit to rebuild the real Temple - which is the temple in our hearts -- and reconnect to God. When we live in unison with God, we will only be surrounded by beauty and kindness.

May we all see the fulfillment of what this time should really be: "...a day of joy and happiness...just love, truth, and peace" (Zecharia 8:19).

In memory of Shlomo ben Issac Ricanati. May these words elevate his neshama.

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