With the annual commemoration of the destruction of the Temple upon us, we often find it appropriate to examine the factors that lead us into exile and to ultimately see what solutions lie before us to end it. The Prophets have already informed us throughout Scripture why we were originally exiled. As for our second and current exile from the Temple, the Sages offer their theories throughout rabbinic literature as to why we were exiled. I will save the moral and ethical teachings for the pulpit. Even then, most sermons on this matter can be boiled down to two verses. “Let us examine and scrutinize our ways, and let us return to The Lord. Let us lift up our hearts along with our hands to God in the heavens.” “When you are in great distress and all these things have happened to you in later times, then you will return to The Lord your God and will adhere to his voice. For The Lord your God is a merciful God, He will not forsake you, nor will he destroy you, and He will not forget the covenant that he swore to your forefathers.” 
This might all be true on a personal level, but repentance on a national level rests in the hands of the people returning to the Land of Israel.  This is made somewhat obvious from the passages in Deuteronomy 30, which describes the process of national repentance. The last step of repentance; the circumcision of our hearts, is preceded by our return to the land: “The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers inherited, and you shall inherit it, and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers (v. 5). And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (v. 6). Therefore, it is only then that we may truly be able to “return” to God. How else are we to unite together, if not for the common land and institutions which we share, the land that has bound us together since the day of our inception as a nation in Egypt?  The very land that is the living testimony of the covenant made with our Patriarchs, which Jews literally pray towards and pray for, along with the restitution of our courts and assemblies, three times a day, every day. Most importantly, the land that is protected by The Military Ministers of the Lord, a role currently occupied by the Israeli Defense Forces.
Tisha Be’av of 1492 was no ordinary day of mourning for Spanish Jewry. Mass deportations had begun, as a joint edict by Ferdinand II and Isabella I of Spain called for the expulsion of the Jewish nation from the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, just a few months earlier. As history has occasionally shown, there usually is a silver lining that follows national acts of anti-Semitism. Many of the expelled Jews made their way to Portugal. However, in 1497, under pressure from the Spanish Monarchy, King Manuel I of Portugal drafted an edict of his own, which called to forcibly convert Jews on penalty of death.  On the other hand, much of Spanish Jewry made its way to nations around the Mediterranean basin  and the Middle East. Consequently, customs and variant legal practices were introduced to these communities, on a grand scale, for the first time. Ignoring differences in ritual and personal matters, international trade grew more and more difficult, as no unifying court had jurisdiction over the Jews in the diaspora.  In light of these socioeconomic challenges, the illustrious Spanish sage, R. Jacob Berab (1474-1546) undertook the challenge to unify the Jewish nation in the land of Israel, and under one monarchy and one common senate, or assembly; the Sanhedrin. Invoking Maimonides, Berab believed that the Messiah would not spontaneously appear, he would have to be appointed by a national court. 
While the vast majority of sages in Israel had no doubt that the man for the purpose was Berab, as his wisdom and brilliance in all matters of the Law was all-encompassing, we shall see that his newly revived institution did not go unopposed. What can be learned from Berab is that the lack of unity in deciding and interpreting the Law must cease. No longer should each rabbi or each student of the Law be allowed to decide upon the gravest matters of religion according to his own judgment. There should be one body to which the nation would appeal, fulfilling the words of redemption uttered by Prophet Isaiah: “I will restore your judges as in the beginning, and your advisers as at the start. After this you will be called city of righteousness, a faithful town.” However, Berab’s efforts were not in vain, as he had legally ordained Justices before his project was usurped by Ottoman officials. He fled for dear life, and found refuge in Damascus, where he eventually passed away. Fortunately, his ordained disciple, R. Joseph Karo, carried on his legacy for national unity. A key difference in political strategy lead Karo to succeed in his efforts, or at least, on a debatable level. Even with the debate surrounding Karo’s method of unification, his works have brought the Jewish nation closer together than ever before, leaving a strong mark of precedent for Israeli Jurists of today. This adoption was not accept by authority or force, but by the mutual and free consent of the people. That, to me, is the single greatest social miracle of modern times!
 Lam. 3:40-41. Deu. 4:30-31.
 See Ketubot 110b-111a for homiletic elaborations on the significance of dwelling in Israel. Of special note, is the scriptural hint likening those who live in the diaspora to “worshiping alien gods.”
 Incidentally, the Sages (Sifrei 333) note that dwelling in Israel itself “atones” for a person. R. Meir extends this to anyone who speaks the Hebrew language; an obvious tool of preserving a nation and its national memory.
 Known as “Marranos,” these converted Jews maintained Jewish legal practice and identity in secrecy. Even after the forced conversions, the Marranos were referred to as da nação: ‘of the nation.’ It is interesting that the Portuguese Jews abroad used the term, a nação, ‘the nation,’ to refer to themselves as Portuguese (or Spanish) Jews, excluding Ashkenazi Jews.
 See David Casarani’s Port Jews: Jewish Communities in Cosmopolitan Maritime Trading Centres, 1550-1950 for a detailed analysis of this topic. Often arriving as refugees from the Inquisition, Port Jews were the known class of maritime Jewish traders. Due to their global network, they trading with major metropolitan areas, such as Amsterdam, London, and Hamburg.
 Lacking international legal recourse, R. Samuel de Medina (1505-1589) records in a responsum, asking him to adjudicate a maritime fire insurance claim, involving members from Thessaloniki, Venice, and The Netherlands. In U.S. contract law, this problem is solved with the Jurisdiction Clause. See https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/forum_selection_clause.
 See Sukka 27b, Keritot 5b. Tosefta (Sanhedrin 3§2) extends this requirement to appoint Kings and the High Priest.