While people around the world celebrate the start of summer with swimming and adventure trips, the Jewish people are in a global state of mourning during the current month of Tammuz.
Tammuz is the fourth month on the Hebrew (lunar) calendar, counting from the springtime month of Nisan when the Jewish nation left Egypt. Tammuz marks the beginning of the summer season, which also includes the months of Av and Elul, and generally coincides with parts of June and July.
The Three Weeks begin on the 17th day of Tammuz, a day of fasting that commemorates the breach of Jerusalem’s walls by the Romans in 70 C.E. The climax of this mourning period occurs on the fast of the Ninth of Av, which represents the dates when both Holy Temples were set ablaze (586 BCE and 70 C.E., respectively). The period of mourning, called the “Three Weeks,” is the Jewish people’s annual mourning period commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temples, and the cause of their ongoing exile. Due to these and other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history during this period, we lessen our joy and celebration during these weeks.
You may be wondering, why do the Jewish people continue to mourn so deeply for something lost over 2,000 years ago?
God is our Father, and the Jews are His chosen people. During the exile, the Jewish people are in a state of dysfunction as a family. They have been separated from their Father’s home, and the relationship has become strained. This is not how the relationship was intended to be, and it hasn’t always been this way.
There was a time when the Jewish people experienced the warmth and love of God’s embrace uninterrupted. His love was evident through miracles, prophets, abundant blessings, and a land flowing with milk and honey. The centerpiece of this relationship was the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, where God dwelled among His people and His presence was felt.
The Jewish people’s loss of an uninterrupted close relationship with God can be traced back to a complex interplay of historical events and human choices. In biblical times, the Israelites’ covenant with God established a special eternal bond, but over the centuries, challenges arose. The divided monarchy, internal conflicts, and the worship of foreign gods further eroded the relationship.
The destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE and the subsequent exile to Babylon marked a significant turning point. The exile was a consequence of political instability, social unrest, and the failure to uphold the values and responsibilities of a chosen people.
While the Second Temple period brought a period of renewal, the Roman conquest and destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE marked another pivotal moment. The dispersion of the Jewish people, known as the Diaspora, led to further challenges in this ongoing journey toward redemption. Despite these trials, the Jewish people’s faith, resilience, and commitment continue to serve as a guiding light for the world.
The suffering that the Jewish people have endured since the Temple’s destruction is a direct consequence of the exile. This is why the Jewish people continue to mourn the loss of the Temples. With unwavering faith, Jewish people pray and eagerly await the day when they will be returned to their Father’s home and once again experience His boundless love. They anticipate a brighter future, in which the world will fulfill its ultimate purpose and be filled with everlasting peace and goodness.
As the prophet Ezekiel says:
With a pleasing savor I shall accept you when I take you out of the nations, and I shall gather you from the lands in which you were scattered, and I shall be hallowed through you before the eyes of the nations…And you will know that I am the Lord when I bring you to the land of Israel, to the land that I lifted My hand to give to your forefathers. (Ezekial 20: 41-42)
The return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel in recent years is a clear and powerful sign that we are nearing this time.