by Rabbi Yonah Bookstein
3 days ago
Have you ever prayed, cried and longed for a lost loved one for a year?
You know how the pain, even after a whole year, will not go away?
Imagining holding on for 1,900 years.
Then you will understand what Jerusalem means to a Jew. Our lives our inseparable.
Every prayer I offer, every song I sing, every celebration I enjoy — is connected to Jerusalem.
Sunday is the 10th of Tevet when we observe a sunrise to sunset fast in memory of what happened in Jerusalem more then 2,500 years ago. In 588 BCE, the siege of the city by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia started on that day, and it was an event that ultimately culminated in the destruction of the first Temple built by King Solomon, and the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah and expulsion of ten of the tribes of Israel.
As the Jewish people, we eventually returned and rebuilt the Temple. But a few hundred years later we lost our Second Temple and were exiled into our longest, darkest exile.
Since Jewish sovereignty’s return to the newer parts of Jerusalem in 1948, and the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, Jewish tears have finally started to dry.
You might think that we would cancel this minor fast day. After all, the Jewish people are back in Jerusalem. The Sh’mah once again resonates across the city. The priestly blessings are again being offered on the Festivals.
So why am I fasting on Sunday? Because we cannot fully celebrate yet — not the way we are behaving.
The reason we lost Jerusalem was not because of external forces or foes, it was because of our own divisions, infighting, and abandonment of our Jewish mission.
Dearest brothers and sisters, it is important to use our voices to call upon our elected leaders to protect Jerusalem. But we know that the future of Jerusalem doesn’t depend on who is president or a vote in the UN.
The future of Jerusalem is for God to decide. We have the chance to show the Master of the Universe that we have finally outgrown our divisions and infighting. We can love and care for one another. We can increase our commitment to our Holy mission on planet Earth. We can show that we truly are ready for the promise of Jerusalem.
That is what Sunday’s fast is about. As the Rambam wrote in Mishna Torah a thousand years ago:
Even if you can’t fast, please consider dedicating some time, energy, and resources to do some soul-searching.
That is how we can guarantee that we never lose Jerusalem again.