Tisha B’Av: The Loss of “Site”


Moshe Ben-Chaim



To understand the loss of the Temple – Tisha B’Av’s commemoration – we must first understand the importance and significance of the Temple.


Maimonides “Laws of the Select House” (2:1,2,4)


[1] “The altar’s location is very exact, and that place is never changed, as it states, ‘This is the altar of Olah sacrifices for Israel.’ And in the Temple was Isaac our forefather bound [by Abraham] as it states, ‘Go for yourself to the land of Moriah’, and in Chronicles it states, ‘And King Solomon commenced to build the house of God in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah where God appeared to David his father, that he prepared in the place of David, in threshing floor of Arnon the Jebusite’.”

[2] “And a tradition is in the hands of everyone that the place where David and Solomon built the altar on the threshing floor of Arnon, this is the place where Abraham built the altar and bound upon it Isaac. And this is the place where Noah built there [the altar] when he exited the Ark. And that was the altar on which Cain and Abel sacrificed. And on it, Adam the first sacrificed when he was created, and from there, was he created.”

[4] “Three prophets went up with the Jews into exile. One testified to them on the location of the altar. And one testified to them on its measurement. And one testified to them that there must be sacrificed on this altar all the sacrifices, even though the Temple did not [longer] exist.”


Why did Adam, Cain, Able, Noach, Abraham, King David and King Solomon sacrifice on this specific spot? Why did God deem it vital to humanity that Noah’s Ark land on this very same Mount Moriah, and that Noah sacrifice on the same location? Why did God demand Abraham bind Isaac on this mountain? Why must the Temple be built here?

To understand all subsequent cases of sacrifice on this specific site, we must learn its inceptional significance. And what is so essential about sacrifice, and this place in specific, that even when the Temple no longer stood, sacrifice was essential as the prophets taught?

The first event to occur upon this precise location was Adam’s creation…who then sacrificed to God immediately upon his creation. He must have suddenly recognized that he was “just created” a few moments ago, and that prior; he was nothing…he didn’t exist until God desired it. Adam was a perfected creature, made in an adult form, and not an infant newborn. His vocabulary and thoughts were mature at his creation. He knew God. Being perfect in thought, he acted perfectly: he suddenly felt compelled to express thanks and praise God for his creation with a sacrificed animal. But why is this the correct response?

Sacrifice is the appropriate response, as it is man’s means of identifying with his true state of nonexistence. Man would not exist without God. Adam therefore killed an animal, the embodiment of the non-existent state man would be in, had God not created him.

We too must identify with Adam’s perfection. He represents the highest level of man: a creature that understands he is “created”, and thus, that a Creator exists, Who alone is responsible for his creation, and worthy of our thanks and praises.

All of Adam’s perfected descendants mimicked Adam’s act of sacrifice, and, upon the precise site of Adam’s creation. They too desired to express this one, same perfection, demonstrating their recognition that they are created. They desired to embellish upon the truth that man exists, only because God created Adam. Therefore, God assisted perfected men, commanding or causing their arrival and sacrifice upon this very parcel of Earth, where God formed the very first human, Mount Moriah.

The Temple’s site on Mount Moriah serves to underscore these concepts: that we are created beings like Adam, who owe our lives to the Creator; and that we must demonstrate this realization through sacrifice: the idea of sacrifice alone is insufficient; active sacrifice is vital. Sacrifice embodies the idea of our non-existence…since we would not be alive without God. Sacrifice, then, become synonymous with Temple, since Temple serves to flag the event and location of man’s creation: a creature who in truth, should not exist.

There are many concepts learned through the study of the Temple’s laws. But primary to this discussion, is the fundamental that we must relate to God as our life-giver, with this essential and dependent feeling. And when we are convinced of this reality, we will live in daily appreciation of all God has granted us.

Conversely, our loss of the Temple is in truth, a loss of identification with Adam, the true relationship with our Creator, and how fortunate we are to exist.

When the Temple will finally be rebuilt, we will then, once again, recall that ancient event of human creation (and re-creation with Noah) with clarity, and look at ourselves equally as “created”. Our attachment to God and His laws will then be a natural lifestyle for all mankind.