The time period of the Three Weeks is an emotionally challenging one. Each year on the 17th of Tamuz and again on Tisha B’Av, I find myself trying very, very hard to be sad and to try to miss the Beit Hamikdash, because that’s what we’re supposed to feel. But usually, to be honest, I just don’t feel it. I wish I did. On an intellectual level, I know that the Beit Hamikdash was an awesome place, and the place where a person had the potential to be as close to Hashem as one possibly could be. The fact that we don’t have that anymore is a terrible loss for the Jewish people. So I know I should be sad that we don’t have that and sad that Hashem is so hidden from us today, that we don’t have Nivi’im and it’s often so hard to see Hashem in our lives. I focus on all these things, and feel a drop of sadness, but not really. It’s so hard to connect emotionally and spiritually to this time.
So then I focus on the fact that it’s so sad that I don’t even know what I’m missing. When I read Tehillim 137 about how the exiled Jews felt they couldn’t sing on foreign ground, I feel so distant from that mindset. Music is a part of my every day life, and chutz l’aretz doesn’t seem so bad. So I focus on the fact that I am so far removed from all of that. If I really knew what it was like in the times of the Beit Hamikdash, then I would be devastated at the current situation of the world. If I had any kind of idea what it was like then, then I would feel something. What’s sad is that I don’t feel sad. That I have no clue what life could be like if G-d was a constant, obvious reality in my life.
But as much as I try and I try to focus on all of these things, I usually still end up being an emotional stone wall. I was always jealous of those around me who would cry and sob during Eicha on Tisha B’av, while I listened silently to the words being read and focused intently. Perhaps one of the psukim would move me to tears. Many of the psukim moved me, but it seemed like just a drop in the bucket compared to the heart-breaking feeling I felt I should be feeling.
So I focus on the difficulties that face Klal Yisrael. On the situation in Eretz Yisrael, on the many cholim, on the terrible Sinat Chinam that I unfortunately see or hear about, on the difficult situations of so many people. And I long for what could be, and what will be hopefully one day soon. I long for the day when there will be peace, peace between Jews and non-Jews and peace between fellow Jews. I long for the time when we will all be united and not so divided.
May we all use this solemn time period during the Jewish calendar to focus on mourning for what was and for longing for what could be, and what hopefully will be soon- the coming of Mashiach and the building of the Beit Hamikdash, bimiheira, biyamenu, amen.