Relating to the Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av is both easier and harder here than in Chicago. On one hand, you can’t look at the Kosel without seeing a ruin, and we see it often. Every time we hear the muezzin calling the Muslims to prayer at Al Aqsa, it is a reminder that Har HaBayis is not what it was or will be. The deep divisions between various factions here in Israel testify that we have not yet resolved the issues that brought churban Bayis Sheni.
On the other hand, we are immersed in a vibrant Jewish lifestyle here. Torah abounds, and we live (mostly) peacefully and prosperously in our eternal home. Even a hardened opponent of secular Zionism surely can’t help but feel the thrill of Jews having returned en masse to Eretz Yisrael. From this point of view, it can be hard to feel the galus.
In Chicago, whatever other distractions there are, you have the unavoidable fact of galus – that you are there, not here.
Although I did my davening at the yeshiva, I did go down briefly to the Kosel last night. It was, indeed, a balagan, but it was inspiring to see so many different groups sitting on the ground, reciting Eicha (the Book of Lamentations). I plan to go again today, despite the heat. May this be the last time we observe Tisha B’Av as a day of mourning.