There is a well-known Gemara in Tannis which states, “Those who mourn over Jerusalem will merit to see her happiness.” The commentators ask, why does it say, “zoche” in present tense and not “zacha” in future tense?
Yaakov was never fully comforted over the supposed death of Yosef. The Midrash notes that this was because Yosef was still alive. When someone dies, Hashem give us the blessing of shikcha (forgetting), but if the person is alive, there’s no consolation. Based on this, the Acharonim note that the fact that we still mourn over Yerushalayim shows that it is existing in our hearts. We have not given up hope that one day it will be rebuilt. There’s a thread of joy in our mourning, which is why Tisha bav is called a moed and the word zoche is in present tense. There’s happiness hidden within our mourning because we still mourn. When Napolean heard the Jews weeping on Tisha B’av he remarked that if we could still mourn so many years after the destruction, there’s no doubt that we will one day see rebirth. Similarly, Rav Yaakov Emden comments that, “Rachem Na…” in bentching is also present tense. With these words we attest that the spiritual potential of Yerushalayim is alive, it is only dormant, but will eventually return.
From the very beginning, Yerushalayim had the quality of righteousness. The Beit Hamikdash stood on Har Moriah. Moriah comes from the root word moreh-to teach. It was a city of Torah learning.. When a Jew would come and eat his Maaser Sheni in Yerushalayim he would be exposed to the holiness of the Sanhedrin and the sanctity of the city and he could not help growing in Yirat Shamayim. And so when we mourn, we mourn the loss of the ruchniyut of Yerushalayim.
The Torah juxtaposes the sin of the meraglim with the story of the bnot Zelafachad. Rav Nebenzahl explains that unlike the spies, the bnot Zelafachad expressed a profound love for the land. They specifically wanted the inheritance of Eretz Yisrael. They said “Tnu lanu achuza“-Give us a portion. They came to speak to Moshe precisely when he was discussing the laws of yibum. One of the prime reasons for this mitzvah is the elevation of the soul of the deceased. They too wanted to use their father’s portion in the land for the spiritual ascension of his soul.
The Ramban says that when a Jew performs a mitzvah in Eretz Yisrael, he receives more reward than if he would have performed the same mitzvah outside the land. It is a different level of avodat Hashem. The Bnot Zelafachad said, “Lama Negara“-Why should we lose out? They wanted the essential ruchniyut of the land.
During the three weeks we mourn the beit hamikdash. We no longer have the Sanhedrin and the Kingdom of David. The central core of kedusha and ruchniyut that Yerushalayim once was, is gone now. Yet there’s a kernel of simcha in our aveilut. We haven’t forgotten or given up. The spiritual energy of Yerushalayim is alive within our hearts.
May our faith in the imminent geulah bring the redemption speedily in our days.