Tisha B'Av History
Tisha B'Av (Hebrew: תשעה באב) is a day of fasting and mourning to remembers many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. The main tragedies being the destruction of the first (by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.) and second (by the Romans in 70 C.E.) Holy Temples in Jerusalem. Both of which were destroyed on the 9th of Av (5th Month of the Jewish Calendar).
Tisha B'Av ends a three week mourning period, which starts with another fast, namely the fast of the 17th of Tammuz (10th Month of the Jewish Calendar), 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.
Tisha B'Av Facts
- On Tisha B'Av, healthy Orthodox Jews, and some Traditional Jews, refrain from eating and drinking (even water), washing, bathing, shaving or wearing cosmetics, wearing leather shoes, engaging in sexual relations and studying Torah.
- In synagogues services typically read from the book of Lamentations and mourning prayers are recited. The ark (cabinet where the Torah is kept) is draped in black.
- Tisha B'Av is never observed on Shabbat. If the 9th of Av falls on a Saturday, the fast is postponed until the 10th of Av.
- According to Rabbinic tradition, the sin of the Twelve Spies led to the annual fast day of Tisha B'Av. They went to spy out the land of Israel, when the Israelites were in the wilderness (book of Numbers, Chapter 13) as described in Mishnah Tractate Taanit 4:6. When the Israelites accepted the false report of the spies, they wept over the false belief that God was setting them up for defeat (a Jewish 'cry wolf'). The night that the people cried was the ninth of Av, which became a day of weeping and misfortune for all time.
Tisha B'Av Top Events and Things to Do
- Listen to a Kaddish prayer (prayer for the Dead). One popular one is Kaddisch found on YouTube.
- Attend a Synagogue Tisha B'Av service
- Fast or do a body cleanse. It is known that fasting has a beneficial effect on the body.
- Mourn over tragedies which occurred in the last hundred years- such as 9/11, typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, atom bombs, starvation and famine. Consider donating to a charity that serves the victims of such tragedies.
- Read the book of Lamentations. It poetically reflects on the destruction of Jerusalem.