Remembering and Relearning the Jewish Connection to the Temple

There are many festivals on the Jewish calendar, but one day, in particular, stands out as a significant day of commemoration. The ninth of Av, also known as Tisha B’Av, is a day of fasting that honors the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Jews all over the world are reminded of their unique connection to Jerusalem and their historic heritage by the loss of these two sacred places, collectively known as the Temple Mount (Har Habayit).

Judaism has associated Har Habayit with significance since its inception. Several sources claim that God started constructing the world from this location. He made the earth his home during the creation narrative and used it to create Adam and Eve. King Solomon later constructed a Temple there in 957 BCE, which turned into a significant hub for Jewish life in Jerusalem and a guidepost for travelers from all over the world. This First Temple stood until the Second Temple was built in 515 BCE. However, this temple would not exist for very long either; in 70 CE, the Romans demolished it after seizing Jerusalem during one of their operations against Judaea.

Following the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, a gold-domed shrine named Dome of the Rock and a companion mosque called Al Aqsa Mosque were erected over the locations of the two temples. It now serves as a significant Muslim pilgrimage site as well as a way to remember how Judaism formerly had ties to this region. Although some Jews have attempted to recapture portions of Har Habayit in recent years with varied degrees of success, none have been able to entirely restore it to its previous splendor.

Even though many areas of Jewish life have changed since these two temples were destroyed, many still look for ways to honor their close ties to them and their illustrious past. One way some Jews do this is by learning how to recite various passages from customary morning prayers, which serves to remind them of the connection between their lives and the great city of Zion and its holy mountain, Har Habayit, which once housed two magnificent temples. Jews living today can only speculate as to what once existed inside those walls.

The Third and Last Temple will be rebuilt at some point before Armageddon, according to Orthodox Judaism. At least some rabbinical authorities hold this belief, which would bring us full circle back to our historical link with the Temple Mount. The concept of remembering our past so we can move forward into the future — always looking ahead but never forgetting where we came from and where we want to go — remains vital, regardless of what one believes about rebuilding Har Habayit or if they even marks Tisha B’Av at all!