Thousands of people descended on the Western Wall Plaza on Sunday to mark the Tisha Be’av fast, pray and listen to the reading of the Bible’s Book of Lamentations.

The 25-hour fast, the second most important in the Jewish calendar, commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, as well as several other tragedies that befell the Jewish people during its history, and is seen as a day of national mourning and soul-searching.



In comments made on Sunday, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar highlighted the need for national unity and to overcome societal differences.

“During these days in which we mourn for the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, the exile of the Divine presence and the dispersal of the Jewish people, and the loss felt in each generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt, it is incumbent on us to think deeply about what we can contribute and do to accelerate the building of the Temple,” Amar said.

“Our sages taught us that both Torah study and acts of kindness will hasten this process. When we say acts of kindness, we mean thinking about the other, for a person to love his fellow man, kindness through love, because what brought about the destruction was baseless hatred among the Jewish people.”

Amar called on the public to “shake off” the inclination toward “baseless hatred” that has beset the Jewish people during its history, to distance oneself from argument and look for the good in each other.

“When we do so, we’ll see that the majority is good, in the majority of times we agree with one another, not just the majority but the overwhelming majority, and that the things that divide us are small.”

In a similar vein, prominent national-religious leader Rabbi Benny Lau spoke of the need for social responsibility to fulfill Torah-mandated requirements for repairing society.

“[We need to show] responsibility for elderly parents, for children who have become young couples who are working hard to stand on their own two feet, and responsibility for our community that includes new immigrants and longstanding citizens, conservatives and innovators... responsibility for the huge gap between the religious and secular that is causing alienation and detachment [from one another].”

Lau emphasized that the Tisha Be’av fast of the present day “is not depressing,” and that the prayers of the Jewish people today need to be different from previous generations because “the city [Jerusalem] is not desolate, and is not in mourning without its children.”

Separately, MK Arieh Eldad of the National Union spoke on Saturday night during a tour around the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and said that the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount will be dismantled when the Temple is rebuilt in the near future.

“When the time comes to build the Temple, and it’s coming soon, we’ll saw up the building that stands there at the moment, we’ll saw it up and they can take it wherever they want to, because the Third Temple needs to stand in that place,” he said.

MK Taleb al-Sanaa of the United Arab List-Ta’al called on the attorney-general to initiate criminal proceedings against Eldad for “wild and irresponsible incitement that may ignite a fire in the entire region.”

Eldad said in response that he was referring to the Dome of the Rock, “which is not a mosque and where no prayers are said.”

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