Paying Rent for the Temple
I don’t particularly enjoy being sad.
I am slightly apprehensive of this part of the Jewish calendar, because it demands a certain amount of solemnness and melancholy. These aren’t emotions I particularly excel at.
So why do we do it? What’s the rationale behind Tisha B’Av(the remembrance of the destruction of the Temple)? How are we meant to grow through the feeling of mourning?
I believe the idea can be understood by understanding the difference between school and the work force.
When you’re at school, you have assignments to do, homework to complete, tests to study for. But at the end of the day, the consequences for dodging your responsibilities aren’t that severe. Worst case scenario you flunk out of school. You’re still living at home, your bills are paid for by your parents, and although they might get angry at you, they’ll still serve you dinner at night(hopefully).
Yet when you hit the workplace, things seem to take on a degree of finality that is inescapable. If you don’t get your work done and perform at your job, you’re not going to get your pay check. If you don’t pay the water bill, it’ll get shut off. Life is a lot more real when we leave home.
Consequences for our actions become much more blunt. When we muck up, it makes a difference.
The Jewish people found out the hard way that life has spiritual consequences as well.
The destruction of the Temple was the ultimate blow to the Jewish people. Our greatest tangible connection to G-d was taken away from us. We failed to do our part of the bargain, therefore we got kicked out of the “House”. We didn’t live up to our calling.
Life isn’t a joke.
In a way, the sadness of Tisha B’Av parallels a funeral. People often get a wake-up call at a funeral. The message is the same. Life is for real. If we don’t invest in our spiritual side, it’s not going to happen by itself.
Tisha B’Av is the perfect precursor to the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It’s only through realising that life is not a game that we can strive to improve and reinvent ourselves for the year to come. The consequences are real, the stakes are high, and it’s up to us.
Good Shabbos and may you have a meaningful fast