Today, Tuesday, is the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz. It's a day of calamity in Jewish history, most infamous as the beginning of the 3-week siege of Jerusalem that resulted in the destruction of our second Holy Temple by the Romans on Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av nearly 2000 years ago. As such, the 17th of Tammuz marks the beginning of the annual period known as "The Three Weeks," a period of lamentation where we curtail celebrations such as weddings, and we refrain from other joyous activities such as listening to music. During the last nine days before Tisha B'Av, we refrain from drinking wine and eating meat, except on the Sabbath. Please note that there are differences in customs between Jews from different backgrounds. At any rate, The Three Weeks is a special time for soul-searching and self-assessment. By our judging ourselves, we mitigate harsh judgments we may have incurred in the Heavenly Court.
Let's do a bit of national self-assessment, trying to be as honest and objective with ourselves as we can.
My old wrestling coach in high school pasted a sign on the ceiling of the gym, that read: "If you can read this sign, you're losing!"
It seems that we've spent a lot of time on our national backs lately. Why?
Simple. It's the old stiff-necked mentality that thinks you can be a winner without Hashem.
Folks, we can't fight our way out of a wet paper bag without Hashem. Hashem has us backed up against a wall, because He wants us to realize this basic fact. If we had Hashem with us, we could tell the Turks to take a long walk off a short bridge. We could tell the USA that we'll build in Beitar, Kiriat Sefer, and Maale Edomim whatever we want and whenever we want. We could tell Gaza that if Gilead Shalit is not home safely in an hour, they will no longer have water or electricty.
Hashem is showing us His power, and we don't appreciate it. Iran - in the meanwhile - has backed down from its planned showdown with the Israeli Navy in the Meditteranean; not because they're afraid of us, but because Hashem has put fear in their hearts. Nasralla and Assad - with all their missiles and bravado - have had a case of wobbly knees also. It's not our doing, but Hashem's.
Rather than saying, "Thank You, Hashem," our errant countrymen are planning marijuana-legalization and gay-rights parades. That's what's called getting in Hashem's face, and it's done with government backing. No one has the right to tell others how to live their lives, unless they're drilling holes in the floor of the same boat that we're teavelling on. Yes, beloved brothers and sisters - Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, black, white, ted and yellow - we're all in the same boat known as the holy Land of Israel. Deny the Torah and you deny our right to this tiny but cherished piece of real estate.
Those of you who have added the wonderful dimension of emuna to your lives have become winners. My biggest joy has been watching your success. It's now time to become winners on a national level and to make emuna Israel Government official policy. Wait and see how everything turns around for the very best. Have an easy fast.