Tisha B’Av, is the day that ends a period of three weeks of mourning, starting with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz when we remember the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the first Temple on that date (9th of Av) in the year 586 BCE. Tisha B’Av means “the 9th of Av.” Av is a month in the Hebrew calendar which falls between July and August in the regular Gregorian calendar. This date commemorates the destruction of the two temples, which once stood in Jerusalem, and other tragedies that occurred in the Jewish culture. It is a day of extreme sadness, somber poetry recitation, and fasting. The Book of Lamentations is read at the synagogue.
What happened on Tisha B’Av?
- The Midrash tells us that the 9th of Av is the date when the Israelite spies sent by Moses returned from Canaan with a sad report, and Jewish people rebelled. The Midrash says that G-d told the Israelites that there would be other reasons to cry on the 9th of AV in years to come.
- Jews built two temples in Jerusalem and both temples were destroyed on the same date, 9th of Av, about 655 years apart.
- The first Temple, Solomon’s Temple, started construction 480 years after Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt or in the year 957 B.C.E. (I Kings 6:1) and was destroyed by the Babylonian armies of King Nebuchadnezzar during the siege of Jerusalem in the year 586 B.C.E. (425 BCE according to historical Jewish sources)… on the 9th of Av. The 25th Chapter of II Kings tells this story in detail.
- A second Temple was built approximately 237 years later in 515 B.C.E and destroyed 420 years later by the Roman armies of Titus the Emperor during the bloody Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E…. on the 9th of Av. Thousands upon thousands of Jews were killed for months until the armies set fire on the Temple leaving only the Western Wall that we know nowadays.
There are other dark memories that have occurred on Tisha B’Av, among them:
- The fall of Betar
- Roman soldiers murdered thousands of Jews on the 9th of Av in 135 CE
- The English Expulsion
- All Jews were expelled from England on the 9th of Av (1290)
- The Spanish Expulsion
- King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain on the 9th of Av (1492)
- World War I
- Germany and Russia declared war on each other on the 9th of Av (1914)
Though Tisha B’Av (9th of Av) is historically a time of fasting and mourning, it also marks the beginning of preparation for the happiest times of the year, the High Holy Days a few weeks later.