Tehillim One Hundred and Sixteen: Temple

Today is Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. It’s also one of the most solemn days on the Jewish calendar, a day set aside for mourning a variety of calamities that have befallen the Jewish people, most prominently the destructions of the two Temples in Jerusalem, which traditionally were both destroyed today. So it seemed fitting that today’s chapter highlight the Temple in honor of the holy day. The psalmist, in this verse, is making an offer of thanksgiving to God for all that He has done for Him. “In the courtyards of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah (Psalms 116:19)!” This is an allusion to the ancient Temple, the center of the Jewish world, where sacrifices were made and God was worshipped in the heart of Jerusalem. Today, the Jewish people are far from unified. That’s not to say that things would be any better with a Temple – to our modern eyes, the rituals of the Temple are arcane and cult-like. But for all of us to have one place to direct our energies and prayers towards would be a unifying force for the Jewish people. The loss of that is what I’m mourning today, not the building that represented it thousands of years ago.

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