The stomach churns and growls. The head aches. It's a fast day, the 17th of Tammuz.
This is a date of disasters for the Jewish people, one of them being that on this date the wall around Jerusalem was breached. The destruction of the Temple followed three weeks later on the 9th of Av.
The challenges of life are many, and it is easy to get caught up in them and forget how much we are lacking our holy Temple. Our Rabbis instituted many pracitices that accompany us daily in order to cause us to remember the Temple. Unfortunately, these things become routine and often go unnoticed. When was the last time I looked at the unpainted cubit by cubit square on the wall in my house? How much kavanah did I have when I said "retzeh" this morning?
However, a fast day, when you are denied some of your most basic needs (food and water), is hard to ignore. As the stomach growls and the head aches, we are forced to remember the tragedy of the destruction of the Temple. We are forced to remember the causeless hatred that brought this calamity upon us. It is a day for introspection and teshuvah.
As I gaze upon the Temple Mount, I feel the destruction more keenly. A mosque stands on the site of the Temple. From another mosque on the Temple Mount huge crowds of Muslims regulary hear anti-Jewish incitement. If all this were not enough, our Israeli and ostensively Jewish government is planning to destroy the Jewish communities of Gaza and Northern Samaria. Voices of senseless hatred spew forth from the Israeli media, directed at the settlers and those that support them. Indeed, bein hametzarim. Please G-d, we need a miracle.