Tisha b’Av: A Time to Cry

Mourning the Destruction

Tisha B’Av, the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av, is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. It is a day of mourning, when we cry for the destruction of our Holy Temple and remember many other tragedies throughout Jewish history that occurred on this day. Tisha B’Av is a major fast day, meaning that we abstain from food and drink for 25 hours. Both the First Temple and the Second Temple were destroyed on Tisha B’Av. The First Temple was destroyed by the wicked Babylonian King 

Nebuchadnezzar, but our Sages teach that God allowed it to happen because of the Jews’ own bad behavior: idolatry, sexual immorality and bloodshed. (Talmud, Yoma 9b)

Seventy years later, the Babylonians had been conquered by the Persians, and Jews were able to start construction on a Second Temple. During the 420 years of the Second Temple era, the people were pious; they studied Torah and observed God’s commandments. So why was that Temple destroyed by the ruthless Romans? Our sages teach that it happened of baseless hatred between Jews. From this we learn that the sin of baseless hatred is equivalent to three severe transgressions: idolatry, sexual immorality, and bloodshed.

Here are some of the tragedies we remember on this day:

– The spies returned with a bad report after scouting out the Promised Land
– Destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 423 BCE
– Destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE
– Bar Kochba revolt against Romans ended in defeat in 133 CE
– Expulsion from England 1290
– Expulsion from Spain 1492
– Start of World War I, with devastating consequences for the Jews both short term and long term. 

Our Sages teach that after Moshiach (Messiah) comes, Tisha b’Av will become a day of joy and feasting. May it happen this year and may we dance together in Jerusalem to celebrate the Final Redemption!

Image: Jews being beaten, from a 13th century English manuscript. Jews were identifiable by the badge they wore in the shape of two tablets

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