The Call of the Hour

For Torah Jews, the calendar plays a pivotal role in helping us define the details of our mission during every particular hour. There are times of the year when we are obligated to emphasize serving Hashem with joy, and commanded to take steps to fill our hearts with gladness. And there are times when our primary focus must be on introspection and repentance.

During the period of the Three Weeks beginning on 17 Tammuz — and particularly during the Nine Days starting with Rosh Chodesh Av — the call of the hour is to mourn what we lost when the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, and to do all we can to merit its rebuilding.

Nearly two thousand years have passed, yet what happened twice on the ninth of Av is inextricably linked to our day-to-day lives in contemporary times. Our brethren in Eretz Yisrael are residing in the Land that Hashem promised our ancestors, but like those of us in the Diaspora, they are very much in exile and in desperate need of salvation.

The tragic fate of each fallen solider and civilian, the deep worry over the condition of the numerous wounded, are painful reminders of the galus in which we live.  Each missile sent towards us, each round of mortar fire, reminds us that we are still surrounded by enemies seeking the annihilation of millions of Jews.

In essence, all Jewish tragedies that have occurred during our long exile are an outcome of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. Only when we merit that Hashem will comfort Tzion, will He comfort her ruins and heal all shattered hearts.

These are days of deep mourning, but also days of great closeness to Hashem. We have suffered terrible losses, but also merited a great exhibition of Hashem’s love for His people. When one contemplates the fact that some 2,500 missiles have been fired into Israel from Gaza, the fact that nearly all these projectiles failed to cause casualties is nothing short of a miracle.

The much-praised Iron Dome is also a great gift from Hashem, a miracle disguised in a mantle of human ingenuity. For it was Hashem Who granted man the wisdom to be able to create a system that intercepts missiles while in the air, and it was Hashem Who placed into the hearts of the present American government the willingness to give Israel hundreds of millions of dollars to fund this extremely expensive system.

It is imperative that we bear in mind at all times that what we are witnessing on the ground is merely the external, temporal aspect of what is really transpiring. In reality, like all wars in the history of the world, this battle is primarily being waged in Heaven, and Jews throughout the world are playing a pivotal part. Each mitzvah that is performed, each perek of Tehillim that is recited, every line of Gemara that is studied, and every dollar to tzedakah that is donated, helps save Jewish lives thousands of miles away.

The IDF has suffered the heartbreaking loss of more than fifty fallen soldiers, Hy”d, and yet Hamas continues to fire rockets deep into Israel. The Israeli Air Force has flattened thousands of homes in Gaza, yet most of the terror group’s top brass have survived unscathed, hiding deep underground in military command centers.

At best, the Israeli military is hoping that it will manage to inflict enough damage on Hamas that there will be “a longer break until the next time around,” R”l.

As we pour out our hearts in tefillah to the Shomer Yisrael on behalf of our brethren in Eretz Yisrael, let us plead not only for the safety of our brothers and sisters throughout the Holy Land, but beseech the Ribbono shel Olam that we may merit the only real solution to all the dangers we face and crises we grapple with.

For only on that glorious day when the great shofar is sounded heralding our Redemption, and the Beis Hamikdash, surrounded by a wall of fire, descends from Shamayim, will the danger posed by our enemies be eliminated. For on that day all wickedness will go up in smoke, and these forces of evil will be removed from the face of the earth.

May we merit that this year, yet, these days of mourning be transformed to days of great joy.