We are now in the midst of the "3 weeks". This is the period spanning, historically, from the time the walls of Jerusalem were breached until the second Temple was destroyed.
Over the past 17 years or so, it has been hammered into us by the "frummers" (from whom I wish to unequivocally dissociate myself) that this is a "terrible" time for the Jews. We are mourning the destruction of our beloved "Beis Hamikdash".
However, I urge you to read what is excerpted below from the Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim (Guide for the Perplexed). Actually, it is incorrect to refer to it as the Moreh Nevuchim, because the original version, like many of the Rambam's writings, was in Arabic.
The Pines edition, from which this is excerpted, is considered to be the gold standard English translation where he used both the original Arabic source and also the Hebrew translation, to come up with an accurate English version. The Rambam deliberately wrote in Arabic so that these writings would be accessible to his compatriots at the time, whose lingua franca was Arabic (contrast this with the contemporary view of some rabbis whose aim it is to deliberately exclude people from certain works - I refer here very specifically, of course, to Moshe Feinstein who forbade his works from being translated into English).
I really would appreciate it if all of you, after having read this will give me your impressions and tell me if you think I have misunderstood something here. We must remember that, by all accounts, the Rambam was probably the greatest halachic codifier in the history of the Jewish people - so one can't accuse him of being some latter day bleeding heart, vegetarian, liberal. Also, remember that in the sequence of his writings, the Guide of the perplexed comes after he wrote the Mishneh Torah, his codification of halachah.
It is absolutely clear from the excerpt below that the sacrifices and the Temple were temporary measures instituted by God Almighty to wean the Jews at the time from their idolatrous practices - nothing more, indeed, the sacrifices sickened Hashem.
So I would put forward that we are labouring under a tremendous lie if we think that on the 9th of Av we should be mourning the destruction of the Second Temple. Why is this lie perpetuated? In my opinion, as with so many other things, it is just another means by which the rabbis maintain control over the Jewish people - by instilling fear in us.
If you want to fast on the 9th of Av, as I will be doing, please do so, but I would suggest that you should rather mourn the sickness and corruption which is Orthodox Judaism today, as evidenced by amongst thousands of other examples, so-called religious Jews rioting on Shabbat in Jerusalem, and so-called mafia rabbis involved in organ trafficking and money laundering.
“….For a sudden transition from one opposite to another is impossible. And therefore man, according to his nature, is not capable of abandoning, suddenly, all to which he was accustomed. As, therefore, G-d sent Moses our Master to make out of us a kingdom of priests and a holy nation – through the knowledge of Him, may He be exalted…; and as, at that time, the way of life generally accepted and customary in the whole world and the universal service upon which we were brought up consisted in offering various species of living beings in the Temples in which images were set up, in worshipping the latter, and in burning incense before them… His wisdom, may He be exalted, and His gracious ruse, which is manifest in regard to all His creatures, did not require that He give us a Law prescribing the rejection, abandonment, and abolition of all these kinds of worship… Therefore He, may He be exalted, suffered the above-mentioned kinds of worship to remain, but transferred them from created or imaginary and unreal things to His own name, may He be exalted, ordering us to practice them with regard to Him, may He be exalted. Thus He commanded us to build a Temple for Him…; to bow down in worship before Him; and to burn incense before Him. And He forbade the performance of any of these actions with a view to someone else… And because of their employment in the Temple and the sacrifices in it, it was necessary to fix for them dues that would be sufficient for them; namely the dues of the Levites and the Priests. Through this divine ruse it came about that the memory of idolatry was effaced and that the grandest and true foundation of our belief – namely, the existence and oneness of the deity – was firmly established, while at the same time the souls had no feeling of repugnance and were not repelled because of the abolition of modes of worship to which they were accustomed and than which no other mode of worship was known at that time.
I know that on thinking about this, at first, your soul will necessarily have a feeling of repugnance toward this notion and will feel aggrieved because of it; and you will ask me in your heart and say to me; How is it possible that none of the commandments, prohibitions, and great actions – which are very precisely set forth and prescribed for fixed seasons – should not be intended for its own sake, but for the sake of something else, as if this were a ruse invented for our benefit by G-d in order to achieve His first intention?… Hear then the reply to your question that will put an end to this sickness in your heart and reveal to you the true reality of that to which I have drawn your attention. It is to the affect that the text of the Torah tells a quite similar story, namely, in its dictum: G-d led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although it was near, and so on. But G-d led the people about, by the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. Just as G-d perplexed them in anticipation of what their bodies were naturally incapable of bearing – turning them away from the high road toward which they had been going, toward another road so that the first intention should be achieved – so did He in anticipation of what the soul is naturally incapable of receiving, prescribe laws that we have mentioned so that the first intention should be achieved, namely, the apprehension of Him, may He be exalted, and the rejection of idolatry. For just as it is not in the nature of man that, after having been brought up in slavish service occupied with clay, bricks, and similar things, he should all of a sudden wash off from his hands the dirt deriving from them and proceed immediately to fight against the children of Anak, so is it also not in his nature that, after having been brought up upon very many modes of worship and of customary practices, which the souls find so agreeable that they become as it were a primary notion, he should abandon them all of a sudden. And just as the deity used a gracious ruse in causing them to wander perplexedly in the desert until their souls became courageous – it being well known that life in the desert and lack of comforts for the body necessarily develop courage whereas the opposite circumstances necessarily develop cowardice – and until, moreover, people were born who were not accustomed to humiliation and servitude – all this having been brought about by Moses our Master by means of divine commandments… - so did this group of laws derive from a divine grace, so that they should be left with the kind of practices to which they were accustomed and so that consequently, the belief, which constitutes the first intention, should be validated in them………”Excerpt fromThe Guide of the Perplexed, Moses Maimonides, Pines EditionIII 32