Each year at Tisha B’Av—the ninth day of the Hebrew month, Av—Jews around the world read our book of sorrow called, Eicha—Lamentations. We think about the destruction of ancient Jerusalem and ask, “How is it that Jerusalem sits so alone?”
Perhaps this year we should reconsider The Book of Lamentations and ask: how is it that our Jerusalem sits so alone, rejected as our Jewish capital by nearly all nations?
How is it that such a city, filled with a multitude of people, seems like a widow—alone and unfulfilled?
Jerusalem is a wondrous city. Millions come every year to see her beauty. She is a princess among tourist destinations, true royalty in the travel industry. But the national leaders of those enthralled tourists reject this beautiful princess. They scorn her. Tourists may indeed yearn to see our regal Jerusalem. But their leaders plot to defrock her.
The nations behave like an enemy. Jerusalem, always celebrated in the best tourist catalogues, can find no comfort. Her enemies seek to prosecute her. Our beloved Zion becomes an outcast. Her diplomatic gates are desolate. Her defenders sigh. Her righteous are afflicted. She sees only bitterness and gall.
Her adversaries become ascendant. Her enemies prosper in the eyes of the world. Her enemies taunt her.
Many dream of Jerusalem. They dream to capture her. They dream to enslave her. They dream to afflict her. They dream to cleanse her of her splendour—her Judaism.
She has become loathsome. Those who once honoured her despise her. She becomes a pariah.
Look at her. See how her enemies magnify themselves over her. They gloat at her discomfort. Her children sigh. They seek comfort but can find none. Her enemies fashion a net for her feet and neck. They knit the net together.
Jerusalem suffers. Her enemies prevail. There are none to comfort her. Only adversaries surround her. Her friends deceive her. They deliver her to her enemies.
Her allies betray her.
Her enemies see and gather to give comfort—to each other. They gather to contemplate the moment they can capture and oppress the beautiful Jerusalem.
Her enemies rejoice when they see her pain. Because she appears bereft like a widow, her enemies creep towards her to strip her possessions-- the holy places she loves. Inch by inch they creep, claiming as theirs what is hers.
They want to swallow her whole. They will strip her holiness, trample her gardens, laugh at her lamentation.
Her children find no solace.
We have seen this mourning before (see The Koren Mesorat Harav Kinot, the Lookstein edition, OU press, Jerusalem, 2010). But if we mourn today, we know that, one day, the ninth of Av will no longer be a day of mourning for national tragedies that have punished us across more than 2,500 years. One day, this day of sorrow will become a day of joy because the G-d of Israel has made that promise; and we know that, when we compare history to our Tanach—the Jewish Bible—we see clearly that G-d keeps His promises.
Honour will return to Jerusalem. Zion will once again be a sign of strength to the nations. Zion will again be proud!
Jerusalem has a Jewish Destiny despite her current isolation. Her Destiny is not with our enemy. Her Destiny is not desolation. Her Destiny belongs to the G-d of Israel. Her Destiny is reserved for G-d’s beloved.
The G-d of Israel watches. He watches Jerusalem, the Jewish people and the nations. He sees who supports Jerusalem, who attacks her. He records in His Book of Deeds. He does not forget. His Justice could be measure-for-measure. His Judgment could be as exacting as that of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who declares that Jonathan Pollard will not be released even though he has served more time than any spy in US history, has cooperated fully from before his trial, has expressed remorse—and did not spy for an avowed enemy of the United States: Jonathan Pollard, she announced in July, 2012, was sentenced to life imprisonment and that is what he will serve.
Measure-for-measure: mercy denied could become Mercy denied.
Vile men have oppressed and possessed Jerusalem. She has wailed bitterly. Even now, her enemies approach. They would once again strip her, to humiliate her nakedness. But the G-d of Israel watches. He records in His Book of Deeds.
Today, Jerusalem mourns on the Ninth of Av. But one day, Zion will be adorned, not mourned. Those who terrorize her now will bow at her feet. Zion will wear raiment of silk. Once again, her Creator will protect her.
Today we mourn. But our promised day is before us. That is G-d’s promise—and, as we know from our Tanach, the G-d of Israel keeps His promises.