Rav Asher Weiss in the derashos in his Minchas Asher quotes a remarkable story. Once upon a time, the Sanzer Rav, the Divrei Chaim, told his chassidim that the Beis Hamikdash was sitting in shamayim already completed; all it needed was the paroches and it could be revealed. One of the chassidim, I imagine a bit of an outspoken one, could not contain himself. He shouted out his question, “So, Rebbe, why don’t you complete the paroches through your avodah so we can have the Beis haMikdash?” The Divrei Chaim responded with anger, “I have made the paroches again and again! – but each time I do, it is torn to shreds by aveiros.”
We are once again at the threshold of the three weeks, the time when we mourn the churban of the Beis HaMikdash. It’s not just a 2000 year old memory of what once was that we are mourning; what we are mourning is the Beis HaMikdash that exists in shamayim right now, whose paroches we keep ripping to shreds.
Maybe we shouldn’t darshen a story, but I don’t think it’s by accident that the paroches is the missing piece. It’s with the paroches that the tragedy of Tisha B’Av really began. As the gemara tells us (Gittin 56b), when Titus entered the Mikdash he took a sword and stabbed it through the paroches, which miraculously began to bleed. When 9 Av comes, if the Mikdash has not yet been build and the day is not yet a day of simcha, we will at night remove the paroches from in front of the aron kodesh in our shules as a sign of mourning.
Tikun is a process that moves from the outside inward. A person may find after a superficial spiritual examination that he/she has certain flaws that need correcting. The process of teshuva and fixing those flaws makes a person more sensitive, more attuned to other defects that need to be worked on, and the process continues on a deeper level. Slowly the layers of defensive posturing, the excuses, the plaque that has accumulated around the neshoma are peeled back, until finally we are at the threshold of the most pnimiyus point that exists in every Jew, the kodesh kodashim of the neshoma. The gateway between that point, that kodesh kodashim, and the rest of the person, is the paroches. What does that paroches look like? Is it a wonderful tapestry that shows our love for the neshoma inside, or is it a torn a ragged garment? What do we want it to look like?
What is true for each individual is true for Klal Yisrael on a national level as well. The destruction began with our loss of autonomy, then our loss of Yerushalayim, then the walls of the Mikdash fell, then finally Titus entered the Kodesh Kodashim and did what he did. Each step of physical destruction manifested the spiritual destruction that had eaten away at our identity. We have witnessed the beginnings of the reversal of the process, again moving from the outside inward: first the restoration of autonomy, the establishment of the State, the reclamation of Yerushalayim, each step accompanied by a greater flourishing and revival of the spirit. We have so much of what centuries of Jews only dreamed of… all we need is the final push, the restoration of that missing paroches.