This holiday will be observed on: August 10, 2019

Tisha B'Av

Why do we mourn on Tisha B'Av? How can we connect our grief to such ancient tragedies? Make the day meaningful. Spend the fast of the ninth of Av with Aleph Beta’s inspiring videos and guides.

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Sinat Chinam: The Great Tisha B'Av Crime

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After the devastation of the first Temple, Jeremiah starts his Lamentations with the cry of “Eicha” – “How?”. How was the great Jerusalem destroyed? Rabbi David Fohrman studies the text of Megillat Eicha in search of what this tragedy means to us today.

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Understand the customs and laws of Tisha B’Av, and why we still mourn this day thousands of years later. Tracing the historical background of Tisha B'Av reveals many Jewish tragedies that have occurred on this day throughout history.

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Great misfortunes have historically befallen the Jewish people during the three weeks from 17 Tammuz to 9 Av. Today this time is observed by mourning, with even stricter restrictions during the last nine days. Learn about the customs of this period here.

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Tammuz 17 starts the three weeks of mourning before Tisha B’Av, recognizing five Jewish tragedies that occurred on this day. Is this date just a "bad luck" day, or is there a common theme to all of these events? Explore this tragic day in Jewish history.

About Tisha B'av

Tisha B'Av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates many tragedies that have occurred throughout Jewish history — most significantly, the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE by the Babylonians and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. Due to its designation as a day of deepest mourning, all enjoyable activity is forbidden on Tisha B'Av. Besides general mourning restrictions, additional prohibitions are observed on Tisha B'Av. These include refraining from eating, drinking, bathing, applying perfumes, intimacy, wearing leather, greetings, and other pleasurable activities, such as sitting on comfortable chairs.

According to the Mishnah (Ta'anit 4:6), we fast on the 9th of Av because of the following events that took place on that day:

  • Before the Israelites entered the land of Israel, they sent spies to scout out the land. The spies returned with a negative report, full of false warnings about the danger that waited in the land of Israel. On the ninth of Av, after hearing and believing these reports, the Israelites cried, demonstrating a lack of faith in God. This generation was therefore punished and not allowed to enter the land.
  • The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. According to the Talmud, the Temple began to burn on the ninth of Av and continued to do so through the tenth. Several mourning practices, including refraining from listening to music, are observed through midday on the tenth of Av for this reason.
  • The Second Temple, built by Ezra and Nehemiah, was destroyed by the Romans. This resulted in the scattering of Judea and began the Jewish exile from the Holy Land.
  • The Romans suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt and killed over 500,000 Jews, destroying the city of Betar, on July 8th, 135 CE, or the 9th of Av, 3892.
  • Turnus Rufus, the Roman commander who crushed the Bar Kokhba revolt, further demolished the site of the Temple and its surrounding area (135 CE).

The service of Tisha B’Av includes the reading of Eicha, or The Scroll of Lamentations, which mourns the destruction of Jerusalem. This is followed by the recitation of kinnot, liturgical dirges that lament the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem. Tisha B’Av has become a day of mourning not only for the tragedies associated with the month of Av, but for all tragedies that have occurred to the Jewish people. Therefore, some kinnot recall the murder of the Ten Martyrs, pogroms in medieval Jewish communities during the Crusades, and the genocide of European Jews during the Holocaust.

In addition to the Five Calamities, throughout Jewish history many tragic events have been associated with 9 Av, including:

  • The expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290.
  • The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
  • The outbreak of World War I in 1914, which overturned many Jewish communities and laid the groundwork for World War II and the Holocaust.
  • Heinrich Himmler received approval for The Final Solution on the ninth of Av in 1941. As a result, the Holocaust began, killing a third of the world's Jewish population.
  • The mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka in 1942.

On Tisha B'Av it is also forbidden to study Torah since this is considered an enjoyable activity. However, mournful texts—such as the Book of Lamentations, portions of Jeremiah and chapters of the Talmud that discuss the laws of mourning—can be read.

Although Tisha B'av is a day of extreme sadness, some find it hard to truly mourn something they've never really had. It can be difficult to find a connection to tragedies in history that seem far removed. Still others find it hard to know how to channel their grief into something constructive. Is there a path to effective grieving? The videos above guide you to find answers to these and other questions about Tisha B’Av.