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Tish'a B'Av Fast

Tish’a B’Av Fast

Tish’a B’Av (Hebrew תשעה באב) is considered to be the saddest and most tragic day for the Jewish nation. On this day religious Jews fast – they don’t eat, don’t drink and it is even forbidden for them to wear leather shoes. Special services are held in the synagogues in Israel and all over the world.

This fast begins a few minutes before sunset on the 8th of Av and ends with the appearance of stars in the sky in the evening of the 9th of Av.  The 9th of Av is the only day of the year, when Jews are not allowed to study the Torah, because studying of the Torah is a source of joy.

Initially, Tish’a B’Av fast is associated with the “sin of the spies”. When Moses led the Jews to the borders of the Promised Land, they were afraid to enter it and begged Moses to send spies to find out everything about that land. Although this request was a sign of doubt in G-d, who brought them out of Egypt and promised them this country, yet Moses had agreed to send 12 spies (one from each tribe) for the exploration. Returned scouts reported that the country was inhabited with giants, that the land devoured its own people and that the country was too strong to be conquered. Only two of the scouts said that the Promised Land is beautiful and Jews should enter it. Unfortunately, the people believed the words of the majority and all night from the eighth to the ninth of Av they cried. They said that G-d brought them here out of malice and that it would be better for them to die in the desert instead of being killed by the Canaan’s.

G-d became very angry and promised that since this time the Jews cried for no reason, in the future He would give them a good reason to cry on this day…That would be a punishment for the sin of disbelief.

His first punishment was to ban the first generation of those who came out of Egypt from entering the Promised Land. People who doubted G-d were condemned to wander for forty years in the desert and die in it, just as they had requested earlier.

And as long as all the Jews will not repent their sin of doubting G-d, they will be given more and more reasons for crying and mourning on this day.

Here is a long and sad list of tragic events that occurred over the centuries on Tish’a B’av:

  • 2449 (1313 BCE) – G-d did not allow to the Israelites who came out of Egypt to enter the Promised Land and made them wander in the desert for forty years until the first generation died there.
  • 3338 (422 BCE) – The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed and burned down the First Temple that was built by King Solomon in the 9th century BCE.
  • 3828 (68 AD) – Titus Vespasian had destroyed the Second Temple, built in the 4th century BCE.
  • 135 BCE – The last stronghold of the rebelling Jews had felt, and Shimon Bar Kochba, the great leader of the rebels, was killed.
  • Few years after the Bar Kochba defeat, the Roman governor Turnus Rufus had plowed the Temple area and its surroundings. Micah’s prophecy came true: ” Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets”. Micah 3:12. Romans forbade the Jews to live in Jerusalem and it became a pagan city called Aelia Capitolina.
  • 1095 – Pope Urban II had announced the beginning of the First Crusade.
  • 1146 – Terrible pogroms in Germany and France.
  • 1290 – The beginning of the exile of the Jews from England.
  • 1348 – The Jews were accused to be the cause of the largest plague in the history (“the Black Death”)
  • 1492 – The king of Spain, Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I decreed the exile of the Jews from Spain.
  • 1555 – The Jews of Rome were moved to a ghetto.
  • 1648 – The massacre of hundreds of thousands of the Jews in Poland, Ukraine and Bessarabia, organized by Khmelnytsky and his associates.
  • 1882 – The beginning of Russian pogroms.
  • 1914 – The First World War begins.
  • 1942 – The beginning of deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka death camp.

Yet, the Jewish people believe that someday, Tish’a B’Av Fast will be the greatest holiday of all. It will be a day when all the Jewish people will repent of their sins and on this glorious day the Messiah will be born.

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