Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tisha B'Av 5774: A reason to cry

Elder of Ziyon..
First posted 19 July '10..

Monday night and Tuesday is Tisha B'Av, the most mournful day of the year. This is the traditional anniversary of the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem, among other tragedies.

It was not that long ago that Jews cried real tears for the Temple - and not only once a year. Countless Christian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem chronicled the heartbreaking sight of Jews gathering at the Kotel, then known then as the Wailing Place of the Jews, every Friday.

From Dwight's American Magazine, Volume 3, 1847:

I have said how proud and prosperous looked the Mosque of Omar, with its marble buildings, its green lawns, and gaily dressed people, some at prayer under the cypresses, some conversing under the arcades ; female devotees in white sitting on the grass, and merry children running on the slopes; all these ready and eager to stone to death on the instant, any Christian or Jew who should dare to set his foot within the wails. This is what we saw within. Next we went around the outside till we came by a narrow, crooked passage, to a desolate spot, occupied by desolate people. Under a high, massive, and very ancient wall was a dusty, narrow space, enclosed on the other side by the backs of modern dwellings, if I remember right. The ancient wall, where the weeds are springing from the crevices of the stones, is the only part remaining of the old Temple wall; and here the Jews come every Friday, to their Place of Wailing, as it is called, to mourn over the fall of their Temple, and pray for its restoration. What a contrast did these humbled people present to the proud Mohammedans within! They were seated in the dust, some wailing aloud, some repeating prayers with moving lips, and others reading them from books on their knees. A few children were at play on the ground; and some aged men sat silent, their heads drooped on their breasts. Several young men were leaning against the wall, pressing their foreheads against the stones, and resting the books on their clasped hands in the crevices.

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