Once upon a time, an edifice stood in Jerusalem connecting heaven and Earth. The Temple was the symbol of G-d's presence on Earth, a place where the divine was tangible.
Our Sages relate that 10 miracles happened daily in the Temple, an obvious manifestation of G-d's dwelling among His people. 3 times a year, the entire nation would make pilgrimage to the Temple, to clearly see and feel the G-d of Israel, to learn His Torah and to better live by His laws.
Today is Rosh Chodesh Av, the beginning of an intense 9 days of mourning, marking the end of the 3 weeks since the 17th of Tammuz, culminating in Tisha B'Av, when we grieve the loss of our Temple. On the 9th of Av, G-d moved out of His house, and in a certain sense, left His people. While we are told that G-d's Shechina accompanied Israel into exile, we are now subject to hester panim, divine concealment, the result being millenia of persecution and oppression, pogroms and Holocausts. The pain and torture in exile all stem from this hester panim. All of the subsequent travails that have befallen Israel all have their root in the destruction of the Temple. Today's sufferings, the rioting and discord in Jerusalem, the international coalition to uproot and expel Jews from their homes, are all because G-d is hiding His face.
The dream of a rebuilt Temple gave Israel the strength to survive and persevere despite the most horrendous of circumstances, the most difficult of exile. It was this vision that allowed the Jew to withstand the crushing humiliation of the ghettos, juderias and mellah, the awful poverty and deprivation, the lowliness of exile, the various decrees and restrictions imposed on him, his home, his family, his livelihood and the numerous physical attacks. It was this dream that allowed the Jew to return to his land, to rebuild his desolate cities and to make the desert bloom. The dream of a rebuilt Temple gave him the strength the reestablish his homeland, to fight enemies far more numerous and powerful than him. It is the dream that still propels him to settle and build, to fight and survive. The majestic dream of G-d's House on Earth, of His dwelling-place among the multitudes of Israel, fights for the Jew in battle, goes along with him to every hill and valley that he rebuilds, to every school, hospital, synagogue and home that he establishes.
Today, the world bands against the nation plucked from the fires of Europe and conspires to evict him from his rightful home. In the midst of this, there are many among the nation of Israel who have forgotten the dream. There are those for whom the Temple is just that, only a dream that belongs to the past. Their hearts have grown cold to the searing pain of being separated from our Father in Heaven, have become numbed to the yearning and longing to see the Temple standing once again in Jerusalem, the heart of Israel and the world. It is time to wake up from our slumber and realize that no matter how many communities we build, how big and grand Jerusalem is, how powerful our state is, everything is incomplete without the Temple. Every single problem facing Israel today has its origin in the fact that G-d is not clearly among us, that man cannot see the diving plan or presence.
May we awaken in our hearts a true longing for G-d's Throne to be reestablished on Earth. We must demand of HaShem "enough! Enough concealment, enough pain, enough exile and hardship! Show yourself!. May Tisha B'Av be transformed from a day of sadness and mourning to one of joy, comfort and salvation. May it be HaShem's will that the Beit HaMikdash be rebuilt speedily in our days, and may we have a portion in His Torah, and may the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasing to HaShem as in days of old, as in former years.