Today as the evidence continues to come to the surface that the terrible fires in Israel are being intentionally lit, I am reminded of another destruction by fire here. Around 2000 years ago, Jerusalem was in flames. The Temple was destroyed on 9 Av in the summer, and a month later, the beautiful homes and neighborhood of Jerusalem’s elite went up in flames.
The ones who lit the fires 2000 years ago didn’t care for the beauty which was Jerusalem. Even according to Rome’s own historians, Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem was the most beautiful building in the world. But this was not even a consideration when faced with the opportunity to stamp out Jews’ connection to their land. So too today; modern terrorists who claim that the land of Israel is their homeland are willing to destroy it to uproot Jews.
Two thousand years ago, Jews left signs of their presence as they fled from the fires. One such find was discovered this year in the archaeological dig at the site of Tiferet Israel synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. After digging in the Ottoman basement of the building which was destroyed in the Independence War in 1948, and through the Mameluke monumental building, past the mosaic floors left from the Byzantine period, one reaches the Second Temple period. Encrusted in a layer of ash from the destruction of Jerusalem is a round, stone weight, the second one of its sort found in this area of Jerusalem. And like its brother, incised with the name of the priest Katros who surely lived in this place.
Two thousand years ago, fire lit by the most powerful empire in the world, dealt a blow to the Jews in Jerusalem. They lost much from the Temple down to a simple, stone weight. No one came to help them and yet they survived.
A visit to Jerusalem and her Second Temple sites can strengthen your connection to the past, push you to see beyond the destructive fires of the present and look to the rebuilding of the future.
- Burnt house
- Jewish quarter Cardo
- Wohl Museum – Herodian quarter