We are currently in the “Three Weeks”, the period of time between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, a period of mourning that the Jewish people still observe every year. This time period has been a sad one for our People. It started back in Biblical times, when instead of having faith that Hashem was leading his people into a good land, the people got nervous and insisted spies be sent out to check out the land ahead of time. Those spies came back with terrifying reports, and the people who had been taken out of Egyptian slavery with signs and wonders and miracles, those people cried and cried. The world works according to “middah keneged middah”, that our consequences reflect our actions, so since we cried on that day, we cry throughout history on that day. Both the first and second temples were destroyed on that day, as well as the Jews being expelled from Spain, and the start of World War I, and many other horrible occurrences.
We spend three weeks in mourning, but on the First of Av, the mourning intensifies. Not only do we refrain from listening to music, holding joyous occasions such as weddings, we also don’t eat meat, don’t wear freshly laundered clothes, and don’t swim or bathe for pleasure. But beyond these outward signs of mourning, it is ourselves we must strive to change. Remind ourselves to be kinder, more loving people. Take it upon ourselves to more carefully observe any of our 613 holy commandments. For example, take it upon yourself to be extra careful not to gossip or cause pain with your words. Or, give charity to someone in need instead of hurrying past. May the merit of our mitzvos and our yearning for the Temple lead to our Ultimate Redemption, speedily in our time.