The 17th day of Tammuz (July 24, 2016) is a sun-up to sun-down fast day in the Jewish Calendar. It is the day on which five major tragedies happened in our history.
The Roman siege of Jerusalem began on this day which ultimately led to the destruction of the second temple in the year 70 CE and thus began the current 2000 year Roman exile of the Jewish people from their land.
After emptying the city of Jews and razing it to the ground, the Romans built a colony on the ruins and named it Aelia Capitolina so that the Jewish connection to Jerusalem would be forgotten.
Not too long ago I visited the Old City of Jerusalem and my friend Seth Clyman who works at the Aish HaTorah World Center. From the roof of the building you have a commanding view of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.
Recently there have been excavations done at the western edge of the Western Wall plaza that cannot be seen from ground level. However from the roof of the Aish building, you can see the main street (the primary Cardo) of the Roman city (there is a secondary excavated Cardo to the west that has been reconstructed and that you can visit and actually shop in local stores)
Click on the picture to the right and you’ll see how the Romans laid the paving stones on an angle on the main street so that their chariot wheels would not get stuck in the cracks between the stones!
It was a great day of reconnecting and I was struck by the contrast of the Roman heroic efforts to destroy the Jewish People’s connection to their Holy City and their Land… and the miraculous return of our people to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel after almost 2000 years.
Upon returning to Yavne’el in the Galilee, I was sitting and talking with Arnie outside our local synagogue while waiting for the evening prayers to start. I glanced up and saw this image of the almost full moon.
The Jewish People are compared to the moon
Each month, the moon ebbs and flows, and just when you think it will disappear, it is renewed.
Throughout our long history, the Jewish People, even in our darkest hours could count on the Almighty to miraculously rescue us so that we could continue our long march through history to fulfill our destiny. The giant menorah on the roof of our synagogue represents one of those miracles – our triumph over the Greek attempt to destroy our People.
As we approach some of the darkest days in the Hebrew calendar, it was comforting to see the waxing moon “lighting” the first Chanukah light!