On the Ninth day of the month of Av we have a day of mourning. On this day we fast, read the Megila of Eicha, and lamentations of different disasters that befell the Jewish people.
This day been observed for thousands of years. The date was picked due to the fact that both of the Jewish temples in Jerusalem were destroyed on this date.
The first Temple was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonian Empire, and the first Diaspora started. After 70 years, Jews were able to return to the land of Israel where they rebuilt the Temple and reinstated the Jewish Kingdom.
The second temple was Destroyed by the Roman Empire in the year 70 AD after 4 years of revolt by Jews against the Romans. This marked the beginning of the second Diaspora which we are still in today.
For thousands of years we have mourned the destruction of the Temple, and the dispersion of Jews from Israel.
Some people say that the Diaspora is over as most of the world’s Jews have returned to Israel and are in control of the land.
I believe that the Diaspora is a mindset that we are still stuck in.
This can be seen, for example, in many different policies that Israel adopts in regard to the Temple Mount.
Arabs can come and go as they please with no security checks. However, if someone Jewish wants to go up to the Temple Mount they can only at certain hours and only after a very thorough security check. Jews aren’t allowed to have anything or wear anything that ‘looks Jewish’ otherwise it will offend the Arabs. Israel doesn’t allow Jews to whisper prayers on the Temple Mount out of fear of how the Muslims would react.
After the terrorist attack on the Temple Mount last week in which Israeli Muslims smuggled guns onto the Temple Mount and killed two police officers, Israel placed metal detectors at the entrance and Muslims started to riot.
After a short period of time Israel gave in and removed the metal detectors, removing every form of Israeli control over what happens on the Temple Mount.
At the same time everyone has to go through metal detectors to get to the Kotel. The Kotel is not the holiest place for Jews, it just happens to be the closest that Jews can get to pray to the holiest place in Judaism which is the Temple mount.
I feel like all of this is result of the Diaspora mindset.
Every year I meet hundreds of young Jews from North America while guiding Birthright trips. Generally they come knowing that they are Jewish but little more than that.
After a week of learning about Judaism, Israel and Zionism they tell me that for the first time ever they are proud of being Jewish. From many Israelis who join the trips I hear that they are proud of being Israeli but not very connected to the Jewish side.
Just like our ancestors had to spend 40 years in the desert to learn how to be a free people, I feel like we need to put work into being a people.
We need to build up on our Jewish pride and look for ways to bring all Jews together as opposed to separating into different sects.
When we can all exude pride in our heritage and religion and feel that we are unified, that will be a sign that the Diaspora is ending.