Tisha B’Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av, is a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which coincidentally(?) have occurred on the ninth of Av. Tisha B’Av means “the ninth (day) of the Hebrew month of Av.” It usually occurs during August. This year it falls on Aug. 8-9 (remember, the Jewish ‘day’ begins at sundown).
Specifically: Jewish Year 5771: sunset August 8, 2011 – nightfall August 9, 2011
Tisha B’Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 B. C., the second by the Romans in 70 A.D. Tisha B’Av is the culmination of a three week period of increasing mourning, beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, which commemorates the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem, before the First Temple was destroyed. During this three week period, weddings and other parties are not permitted, and people refrain from cutting their hair. From the first to the ninth of Av, it is customary to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine (except on the Shabbat) and from wearing new clothing. In synagogues, the book of Lamentations is read and mourning prayers are recited. The ark (cabinet where the Torah is kept) is draped in black.
There have been several incidents of blood red lunar eclipses on or around the 9th of Av, 3 years in a row as of 2011. Could this be significant?
“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,. . ‘“ (Genesis 1:14)
The caption on this picture from the Library of Congress reads “Jewish beggar at the Wailing Wall reading.” He may have been a beggar, but if you show the picture to Jerusalemites, they’ll instinctively respond, “It’s Tisha B’Av, and he’s reading the book of Lamentations (Eicha).” A story is told of Napoleon passing a synagogue and hearing congregants inside mourning. To his question who they are mourning, he was told they were weeping over the destruction of the Jewish Temple 1,800 years earlier. Napoleon responded, according to the legend, “If the Jews are still crying after so many hundreds of years, then I am certain the Temple will one day be rebuilt.”
The Book of Genesis describes how Jacob mourned during the entire 22 years that Joseph was missing. Nothing consoled him. No one could comfort him. One would think that after 22 years the pain of the death of a loved one would somewhat lessen or ease with the passage of time, but in this case it did not. Why? Because there was no closure, no burial. Why? Because Joseph was not dead! For over 2000 years the Jewish people have been mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple. At every festive occasion its loss is remembered. No wedding takes places without the symbolic broken glass. Ashes of mourning are placed upon the forehead of the groom and a section of a new home is left unpainted or unfinished, all in remembrance of the Destruction and the Exile from Zion. One might ask, “Why are they still crying after 2000 years?” Why can’t they get over it and move on? Why? Because there was never any closure, no burial. Why? Because the Temple’s bricks and stone have been destroyed, but the Divine Promise still stands, the Temple will be rebuilt and until that day Zion will never be forgotten!
Here is a more complete list of significant events on this date in Jewish history and why it is a time of mourning for the nation of Israel:
• Av 9, 1312 BC – The ten spies brought the bad report leading to the wilderness wandering. See also: 14,000 Days
• Av 9, 586 BC – Babylonians destroy Solomon’s temple. See also: Ezekiel’s 430 Days
• Av 9, 70 AD – Romans destroy 2nd temple. See also: Daniel’s 70 Weeks • Av 9, 135 AD – The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar — the Jews’ last stand against the Romans — was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered.
• Av 9, 1290 AD – July 25, 1290 Jews forced out of England.
• Av 9, 1492 AD – August 11, 1492 Jews forced out of Spain. • Av 9, 1914 AD – August 1, 1914 World War I Began (The immediate cause of the war was the June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb citizen of Austria-Hungary and member of the Black Hand. On August 1, 1914 Germany declared war on Russia)
• Av 9, 1942 AD – July 23, 1942 – Treblinka extermination camp opened in occupied Poland, east of Warsaw. The camp is fitted with two buildings containing 10 gas chambers, each holding 200 persons. Carbon monoxide gas is piped in from engines placed outside the chamber, but Zyklon-B will later be substituted. Bodies are burned in open pits. HistoryPlace
• Av 9, 2005 AD – Starting at midnight on August 14, 2005, the entry and presence of Israeli citizens in the areas to be evacuated was prohibited under paragraph 22A of the Implementation of the Disengagement Plan Law 2005. Disengagement from the Gaza Strip was completed on August 22, and from northern Samaria on August 23, 2005. Related news articles here.
• Av 9, 2005 AD – Aug 16: Gaza Evacuation: The Beginning of Dividing Israel for Peace – Israel’s Disengagement Plan: Renewing the peace process See also: Dividing the land and 1st Seal
Amazing, isn’t it? There are no coincidences in God’s plan. What does it all mean??