..."Old men and women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for very age, and the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in the streets" (Zechariah 8:4-5). In our time, we have had the privilege of witnessing this come true.
13 December '13..
In the ninth year of the last king of Judea, Zedekiah (589 B.C.E.) on the 10th day of the month of Tevet, the prophet Ezekiel, sitting in Babylon, related a prophesy he had received:
"Son of man, write you the name of the day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day" (Ezekiel 24:2).
The siege of Jerusalem started on the 10th of Tevet and ended about 2½ years later with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, in other words, with our first destruction.
What would we be without memory? For 26 centuries we have commemorated this day. The beginning of a calamity can be greater than the calamity itself. It was testimony to the social and moral rot that the siege was an external symptom of. The siege of Jerusalem besieged Israel's hope. Historically, political destruction and exile have a single interpretation: gradual assimilation into the nations until the final extinction.
The greatest danger of all was despair and loss of hope. Without a political body, individuals were like dispersed bones. "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts" (Ezekiel 37:11).
The lamentations of despair accompanied us in other national crises. They can sometimes be heard today. The answer can be heard in our national anthem. Naftali Herz Imber, who wrote "Hatikvah," read the words of those exiled and answered from the distance of years: "Our hope has not yet been lost ... to be a free nation in our land." This is the only response to the destruction, every destruction: rebuilding while learning from the past and correcting previous errors."
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