Do We Still Need to Fast on Tisha B’Av?

hero image
Man Davening at Kotel

Last week, an Israeli Rabbi wrote an article in a weekend magazine wondering aloud why we still observe the fast of the 17th of Tammuz. After all, we have recovered Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel, we have a thriving State of Israel, and more people are learning Torah in Israel than ever before. So why are we fasting, why are we mourning, what are we commemorating? This Rabbi found his questions so compelling that he concluded that indeed, we should no longer be fasting as the redemption is upon us.

We intuitively know the Rabbi’s declaration is wrong. But why?

Here’s why:

Yes, if you walk around Israel with your eyes even partially opened you cannot help but feel the beginning of the redemption is upon us. And yet, if you read the news with your eyes even partially open you cannot help but recognize how incomplete and partial that redemption is, and how far we still must go to experience it fully.

The destruction we mourn until this date is the result of Hashem withdrawing His intense countenance from our midst. He did so because we misbehaved in our attitude towards one another. But, he did so also because we failed to appreciate the divine gifts He bestowed upon us and we took for granted what it means to be protected by His presence.

The Prophet Yirmiyahu bemoans, “Tziyon hi, doreish ein lah,” “No one searches out Zion, she is forgotten.” Taking an interest in Israel, identifying with her people, her problems and her destiny is not only part of what it means to be a Jew, it is part of what it will take to bring the geulah, the redemption, and rebuild the Beit HaMikdash.

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg is the Senior Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue (BRS) in Boca Raton, Florida. He serves as Co-Chair of the Orthodox Rabbinical Board’s Vaad HaKashrus, as Director of the Rabbinical Council of America’s South Florida Regional Beis Din for Conversion, and as Posek of the Boca Raton Mikvah.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.