On the night of Tish’ah be-Av(July 29), when the Jewish people devotes itself again to mourning for all that
it has lost during
exile; after everyone is seated on the ground and before the Kinot(lamentations) are recited, the custom is that the one who leads the prayers
rises and proclaims to the congregation, "Today marks such-and-such many years
since the destruction of our Sanctuary.” For the essence of the mourning over
the great catastrophe, over the years of exile and all that they have entailed,
returns to the focal point of this mourning – to the destruction of the Temple
and city of Jerusalem.
The basic meaning of the Hebrew word Shabbat is standstill, cessation. God "worked" in the six days of Creation, and when Shabbat arrived He ceased to work.
The last days of the year, which lead us to Rosh HaShanah, the Day of Judgment, are days of stock-taking, which every individual should do for himself. If the main part – namely, heart-felt repentance – is there, then the heart cries out and the stock-taking is done almost by itself. But if the main part is not there, people tend to cover this up with excessive detail – just like in the story about an absent-minded fellow who, before going to sleep, wrote down where he put each of his belongings, so that he can find them in the morning; the only thing that he forgot to note was … himself.
What is the nature of this yearly stock-taking? Surprisingly enough, the Rosh HaShanah prayers do not contain any reference to sin;
Most of the Jewish people are so very scattered and removed from each other that they hardly ever find a common language, or even any language that makes sense to them as Jews. This is what is called assimilation, which is basically the loss of the common heritage. We therefore have to try to reach some deeper levels of the soul, many of them bordering on the unconscious, to help us get back to talking together, to having some kind of a common language.
Jews can hardly be categorized as a nation (even though there is now an emerging Israrli nation); we cannot even be considered a religion in the ordinary sense of a religion with a message which we think should become general, which we want to sell to others.
There are many indications that we are not yet living in the Messianic Era. Rather, we are in the period shortly preceding the Messiah's coming, which in Jewish tradition is called "the footsteps of the Messiah," and we are being trampled by these footsteps, with suffering and confusion. From the wide variety of the existing turmoil and problems, I wish to focus on one issue, which has to do with looking at the totality of the Jewish world. Each and every one of us can, of course, remain in his or her small corner and see just one tiny slice of the world. But I think we should consider the Jewish People as a whole – in the Land of Israel, the United States, Jamaica, New Zealand. When I look at this overall picture I see something that frightens me.