Today Jews Have Their Own State and the Freedom to Return from Exile. So Why Do We Continue to Mourn the Temples’ Destruction?

July 30, 2020 | Meir Soloveichik
About the author: Meir Soloveichik is the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York and director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University.

In 1977, Menachem Begin made his first visit to the U.S. as Israel’s prime minister—a visit that coincided with Tisha b’Av, the ancient day of mourning over the destruction of the two Temples, along with other calamities that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history. Not only did Begin take time out from his official activities to attend Tisha b’Av eve services at a synagogue, but, appearing the next day on Meet the Press, explained the day’s significance to his American audience. Meir Soloveichik, using Begin’s comments as his point of departure, seeks to answer the question of why we still mourn Jerusalem’s destruction some 2,000 years ago when the Jewish state is restored, Jerusalem is in our hands, and we have so much to celebrate.

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