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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Skorka

9th of Av - Destruction and recovery

According to Jewish tradition, the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem, like the second, occurred on the same day, the ninth of the month of Av (Mishnah Taanit 4:6). After the first destruction this day was declared one of fasting and mourning, and even when the Second Temple was built the prophet Zechariah taught that the practice of fasting must be maintained until that future day when love and integrity prevail and fasts are transformed into feasts. (7: 5-14; 8: 18-19).

It was the people’s grief that drove them not to accept that the history of Israel, punctuated with great destructions, had come to end. This explains the uniqueness of their existence for thousands of years

In 1968, after being invited by the Academy of Sciences and Humanities of Israel, to visit that country that the great Spanish thinker Julian Marias composed a small essay entitled: Israel, a resurrection. He started the book by saying:

“I believe that the strength of the Jewish people lies in their capacity for despair. Never having been comforted by the dispersion and destruction of the Temple, the loss of Jerusalem, has preserved its identity, it has allowed it to remain, for almost two millennia, the same; it has made it, century after century, not only a faith, but something very different: a people ”

With this penetrating insight, Marias masterfully identified the essence of the Jewish commitment that allowed the people to survive and to maintain and recreate its identity and values from generation to generation.

The stubbornness with which the Bible characterizes the people of Israel (Exodus 32: 9; 33: 3; etc.) meant that in the most tumultuous moments of its history the people refused to give up. They thus remained a people with a message to share with all the humanity.


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