This is my attempt at blogging. I'm still learning about the blogging world, and this is my own personal study hall.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Day of National Mourning

{I'm writing this to my friends from the Taglit-Birthright trip that I staffed in December 2008. If you are not one of them but are interested in reading it anyway, that is fine, and I hope you find it interesting and even enlightening, but please know that this is not directed to you.}

Hi Guys,

I just wanted to drop you all a line letting you know I’m thinking about you. I thought I would also share some thoughts on today and tomorrow.

In case you weren’t aware, tomorrow is a very significant day in Jewish history. It is known simply as Tisha B’Av, which just means the 9th of Av (“Av” being the name of the current month on the Jewish calendar). It is also regarded as the saddest day in Jewish history.

A few of the sad historical events that occurred on this day:
1. 10 of the 12 scouts sent by Moses to inspect the habitability of the Land of Canaan came back with a negative report, leading to widespread panic, a refusal among the people to enter the land, and ultimately causing our ancestors to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, with none of that generation surviving to enter the Land. (Two of the scouts saw the same things as the other ten, but had a more positive outlook, yet the people accepted the negative account.) (BaMidbar / Numbers 13-14)

2. Solomon’s Temple (the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem) is destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The Jews are expelled from the Land of Israel and spend 70 years in exile.

3. Herod’s Temple (the second Holy Temple in Jerusalem, whose retaining wall we visited – aka the Western Wall; we also saw the Southern Wall excavations at the Davidson Center) is destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. The Jews are expelled from the Land of Israel once again, an exile which is still in place in many senses today, despite the establishment of the State of Israel. Remember Masada? The refugees from this war fled there and died about three years later in 73 CE. Josephus Flavius, a Jewish-Roman historian at the time, claimed that 1,100,000 were killed, the majority Jewish. 97,000 were captured and enslaved.

4. Bar Kokhba, a military leader who inspired a huge following to rebel against their Roman conquerors, is killed in battle in 135 CE. The same day, the city of Betar is destroyed. Casualties are unknown, but estimates range anywhere from 80,000-580,000.

5. The year after the Temple is destroyed, Jerusalem is razed.

6. In 1290, the Jews of England are expelled.

7. In 1492, the Alhambra Decree, expelling Jews from Spain, is issued on the 7th of Av, and is strongly associated with Tisha B’Av (it is possible that the actual expulsion began on the 9th).

8. In 1942, on the eve of Tisha B’Av, mass deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto to the death camp Treblinka begins.

9. (This one is a bit controversial, depending on your political views.) The Gaza Disengagement Plan, resulting in the eviction of the Settlers of Gush Katif, is scheduled to take place on August 14, 2005 – Tisha B’Av. When this is announced, massive protests result in a delay in the evacuation until August 15.

Observances and practices:

Tisha B’Av is observed as a “major” fast day. This means that, like Yom Kippur, and unlike “minor” fasts, not only are eating and drinking prohibited, but also bathing and washing, applying fragrances, wearing leather shoes, and sexual relations. In addition, as an added observance as a day of mourning, we sit on low chairs, we do not fulfill certain positive commandments like donning Tzitzit or Tefilin, and we refrain from studying Torah or Jewish law, with the exception of the laws of the day, the laws of mourning, and the stories of the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. The added observances of mourning are practiced from sunset tonight until noon tomorrow, whereas the observances of the day as a “major” fast are practiced from just prior to the start of sunset tonight until just after the completion of sunset tomorrow (8:22pm tonight until 9:07pm tomorrow night in the Metro DC area).

At the onset of the fast (tonight), Eikhah, (the Biblical book of Lamentations), is read in the synagogue, while the congregants typically sit on the floor or low stools. Contact your local congregation to find out their schedule.

In the morning (tomorrow), Kinnot, or mournful poems, are recited in the synagogue. They are also recited following the reading of Eikhah in the evening (tonight).

For more on the historical significance of Tisha B’Av, check out the following:

For more on the religious significance of Tisha B’Av, check out the following:


Blogger Ibrahimblogs said...

I found it interesting. I found it enlightening too!

Keep blogging!!

This is Ibrahim from Israeli Uncensored News

12:58 AM


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