Immediately after the Temple was destroyed the rabbis established a number of traditions that should be kept year round to remember that our Temple is still in ruins. (See HERE)
On of those customs is that when we physically see one of the ruins of the Biblical Jerusalem, we should say a special Psalm (Tehilim 79), which talks about destruction and desolation, recite a blessing that is usually said when a close relative passes away: Barukh...Dayan haEmet, and tear our shirt apart, again, as a mourner would do, when mourning for a close relative.
Contemporary rabbis discussed the application in our days of this last tradition--tearing one's clothes apart.
Rabbi Kook z"l said that once we have the State of Israel and we govern ourselves, this tradition should not be mandatory anymore. Why? Because our ruins are not considered a reason for mourning, since it is now up to us to rebuild them! Furthermore, he says, it might be considered an expression of ungratefulness to God, that gave us back our Medinat Israel.
Rabbi Obadia Yosef and many other rabbis said that one still should tear his garments when seeing the Kotel haMa'arabi, in sign of mourning for the Bet-haMikdash, until the day B'H the Bet-haMikdash will be physically rebuilt.
There is a way -also suggested by Rabbi Yosef-- to avoid this debatable instance. By visiting the Western Wall, the first time, during Shabbat or Rosh Chodesh. The holiness of Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh overrides any display of mourning. So, even for the stricter opinion, we don't have to tear our garments when we see the ruins of the Bet haMikdash on Shabbat or rosh Chodesh. (For a full disucssion of this issue see Penine Halakha, ha'am veharetz, 195-199)
May we all see Yerushalaim and our Holy Temple rebuilt in our days!
Candle Lighting in NYC: 7:56 PM
Shabbat Ends in NYC: 9:03 PM
Click HERE to watch:
"Charlie Harary and the origin of Tisha BeAb"