On the 17th of Av, 5689 (August 23, 1929), Arab mobs began rioting all over Eretz Yisrael. The ‘official’ reason for the Arab violence: denial of Jewish rights to the Kotel HaMa’aravi, the Western Wall.
Dozens of Jewish communities were attacked, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. In Hebron and Safed, Arab mobs slaughtered men and women, elderly and young. Those who survived the slaughter were evacuated, as were the residents of Gaza, Shechem (Nablus), Beit She'an, and other towns. In a week of rioting and pogroms, 133 Jews were killed and more than 300 wounded. Seventeen communities were evacuated, and there was great loss of Jewish property.
In those days of turmoil and troubled spirits, Rav Kook wrote the following words of encouragement.
Our Sages described the Messianic light — the nascent redemption of the Jewish people — with a puzzling expression. They wrote:
|“[The light] appears, is obscured, and then appears once again” (Yalkut, Song of Songs 986).|
What did they mean with this description of a wavering, vacillating light?
We witness many fluctuations in the process or renewing the nation and settling the Land of Israel. Every setback represents an obscuring of the redeemer; while every subsequent advance signifies his appearance.
Anyone who has followed the development of the Jewish community in Eretz Yisrael from its inception until today sees that, from every reversal, grows new triumph and success. Therefore we should not lose heart, even in the face of the terrible disaster that has befallen us. For in proportion to the present darkness, the future revelation of light will be that much greater.
The light of redemption may be temporarily obscured. But it will shine once again, with even greater brilliance.
(Adapted from “Celebration of the Soul", p. 198)