Mourners of Zion
The three weeks; from the 17th of Tammuz until the 9th of Av, were designated by the spiritual leadership of Eternal Israel as a time of mourning for the destruction of the Temple. The fact is that a Jew who walks in the ways of his or her ancestors will carry the heartache of the destruction all the time. The “Three Weeks” are unique only in that they are a time for a more explicit outward expression of this steady mourning.
In the book of Isaiah we learn that the attitude of mourning for Zion is not a peripheral aspect of our relationship with God. In Isaiah 61:3 we find that the term: “Mourners of Zion” is synonymous with Israel as the servant of God. The promise to the mourners of Zion in this verse (61:3) directly parallels the promise to Israel in verse 60:21. The fact that the prophet gives Israel this name (mourners of Zion) in this context, tells us that the attitude of grieving over Zion is central to our calling as a nation before God, and is a crucial factor in our hope for the Messianic promises.
The heart of the Jew is the yearning to connect to God. Not that I, the Jew, should ascend to heaven, but rather that God should come to dwell amongst us here on earth. God promised that this will come to pass (Leviticus 26:12, Ezekiel 37:28). God also promised that it is through Israel that He will work towards the pinnacle of history (Isaiah60:2,3). God first revealed His glory to Israel (Deuteronomy 4:35), and Israel is charged with the task of witnessing to the world that there is but One God (Isaiah 43:10). After Israel encountered God, there is nothing on earth that could satisfy her but God Himself. No glory or pleasure could appeal to the heart of Eternal Israel but that her ultimate dream come to fruition – that the God of truth come to dwell in her midst here on earth. And as long as that has not yet happened, the heart of the Jew will pine and yearn for that great day.
The life of the Jew is filled with joy, the joy of serving God, the gratitude towards our loving Father who gives us everything – including our very existence, the joy of the hope inherent in the Messianic promises, and even the joy that as His servants we can mourn and yearn before Him. But it is only to the degree that the mourning for Zion is a reality in our hearts that we can hope for the restoration and the promises.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal