All You Wanted To Know About: Tisha B'Av

By Aish UK

Tragedy

From the time the Jews wandered through the wilderness following the Exodus from Egypt the 9th of Av has been a day of sadness and mourning for the Jewish people.

Whilst tt is a day spent recalling all tragedies to befall the Jewish nation there is a particular focus on five specific events.

  • The Spies returned from touring the land of Canaan with a condemning report. The Israelites accepted this and wept in response, yearning to return to Egypt. 
  • The first Beit Hamikdash was destroyed by the Babylonians under the command of Nebuchadnezzar. Following the destruction, the Jews were led into the Babylonian Exile
  • The second Beit Hamikdash was destroyed by Titus and his Roman army.this marked the commencement of the current exile.
  • Bar Kochba's rebellion was crushed. The city of Betar was destroyed with 100,000 people killed.
  • Temple Mount and its environs were ploughed over by Turnus Rufus.

Continuing down the years we find other calamities that have occured on this day. The First Crusade was launched on the 9th of Av in 1096. Explusions of Jews from France, England and Spain were enacted. The liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto commenced on the 9th of Av in 1942)

Customs

On the day of the 9th of Av people observe a selection of mourning customs. These include

  • Fasting
  • No washing or bathing
  • Not annointing oneself with ointments and creams
  • Not wearing leather shoes
  • Abstaining from marital relations

People traditionally sit on the floor or on low stools, and Torah study is forbidden save the sections that relate to the destruction of the Temples and other related texts.

In light of the fast, the evening before the 9th of Av involves a Seuda Hamafseket. Consisting of bread, water and an egg dipped in ashes. This should be a muted meal, eaten alone. 

The Synagoge services on the 9th of Av include Kinnot and a reading of the Book of Lamentations (Eicha). Tefillin are not worn in the morning.

The majority of mourning practices end at nightfall. Due to the fact the Temple kept on burning until the 10th of Av people refrain from haircuts, washing clothes, bathing, haircuts, shaving and eating meat and drinking wine until midday of the 10th of Av.

- May 15th 2012

About the Author

Aish UK

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