[ Index ] [ Prayers ] [ Holidays ] [ Israel ] [ Spiritual Warfare ] [ Islam ] [ Helps ]

Tisha B'Av

Events Occurring on Tisha B’Av

??       Jacob is confronted by Esau on his return to Canaan. [Rashal Bereshit Vayish;quoted in Seder HaDorot]
2448/-1312       The spies return from spying out the land for 40 days. 10 spies give an evil report; the people believe them, and despair. They are then forbidden by God to enter in because of unbelief
??       Jeremiah, considered by many Jews to be a traitor, is born. [Midrash Yalkut Yiremiyahu 36]
3340/-421       The First Temple is destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezar, with about 100,000 Jews being killed during the invasion. The remaining tribes in the southern kingdom are exiled to Babylon and Persia.
3830/70       The Second Temple is destroyed by the Romans under Titus. Over 2,500,000 Jews die from war, disease or famine. Over 1,000,000 Jews are exiled, and over 100,000 Jews are sold as slaves.
3831/71       The Roman army ploughs Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, with salt.
3892/132       The Bar Kochba revolt is defeated at Betar; over 500,000 Jews are slaughtered.
3893/133       Rufus ploughs under the Temple site, and the Romans build the city of Aelia Capitolina over the site of Jerusalem.
4855/1095       The first Crusade is declared by Pope Urban TI; 10,000 Jews are killed in the first month.
5050/1290       King Edward I orders the expulsion of all Jews from England.
5252/1492       Ferdinand and Isabella expel all Jews from Spain and Portugal. Christopher Columbus, who was of Jewish descent, leaves to 'discover' America this day.
5674/1914       Britain and Russia declare war on Germany as World War I begins. Russia begins mobilization of its army this day. Local government officials begin triggering persecutions and attacks against Jews throughout Russia. Over 400 pogroms followed the war in Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and Russia.
5702/1942       Deportations of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp begin.
5749/1989       Iraq walks out of talks with Kuwait.
5750/1990       Gulf war begins, with Saddam Hussein going to war against Kuwait; in the months that followed, he proceeded to shoot missiles into Israel as well.
5754/1994       AMIA (the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina) building bombed; 86 people killed, 300 wounded.

Note 1: Both Hebrew and Common Years are given. Some dates vary by a few years. depending on source.

Note 2:
The only observed collision between a planet and another solar body began on Tisha B'Av, a Sabbath. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 began slamming into the surface of the planet Jupiter, known in Hebrew as Zedek, the righteous one. This event may have connections to the other Tisha B'Av events. On July 17 (Tisha B'Av) 1994, the planet Jupiter was struck by 21 fragments of a comet. The comet (Shoemaker-Levy 9) collided with this planet.. likely fulfilling Luke 21:26, where Jesus says that, prior to his return the "heavenly bodies would be shaken." Is all this coincidence? I don't think so. Jupiter was the high-god of Rome, it was the one whose temple replaced God's house in Jerusalem and whose name (Capitolina) adorned the city for centuries. Jupiter (also known as Marduk to Babylonians) was the high god of Zoroastrianism, the religion of Nebudchenezzar (who had the first temple burned in 586b c). See the connection? God had symbolic "revenge" on Rome -and- Babylon through Jupiter (high god of both empires), when the planet was pummeled on this fitting anniversary in 1994. [excerpt from http://www.tckillian.com/greg/tishabav. html)
The Handwriting of God, by Grant R Jeffrey
Rabbi Mordechai Becher - http://www.ohr.org.il/special/9av/timeline.htm
Greg Killian - http://www.tckillian.com/greg/feasts.html

Tisha B'Av
by Greg Killian

Tisha B'Av is the Hebrew name of the fast of the fifth month. Tisha B'Av is the way "the ninth of Av" is said in the Hebrew tongue. Av is the fifth month of the Biblical year. If the ninth of Av falls on the Sabbath, the observance is pushed off to the tenth of Av. This fast is mentioned only obliquely in the TaNaK, the old testament. This fast of the fifth month mentioned in:

Zechariah 7:1-7 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melech, together with their men, to entreat the LORD By asking the priests of the house of the LORD Almighty and the prophets, "Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?" Then the word of the LORD Almighty came to me: "Ask all the people of the land and the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? Are these not the words the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?'"

In the above verse we see the elders inquiring as to whether they are to continue the fast of the fifth month, but, we never see this fast being given in the first place. This is a bit odd. Odder yet is this scripture:

Zechariah 8:18-19 Again the word of the LORD Almighty came to me. This is what the LORD Almighty says: "The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace. "

Here, Hashem is indicating that these fast days were appropriate and that these days of mourning will be turned into days of joy. The scriptures are strangely quiet on where these fasts began, and on the reasons for these fasts. Never the less, it is obvious that Hashem approves of these fasts of mourning and that some day he will wipe away our tears and turn these days into days of joy.

The 9th of Av falls exactly 3 weeks (21 days) after the 17th of Tammuz and these two dates are always very closely linked in history. The Mishnah records for us:

"Five things befell our fathers on the 17th of Tammuz and five on the 9th of Av. On the 17th of Tammuz the Tablets [of the Ten Commandments] were broken, and the Daily Whole-offering ceased, and the City was breached, and Apostomus burnt the Torah, and an idol was set up in the Sanctuary. On the 9th of A v it was decreed against our fathers that they should not enter into the Land, and the Temple was destroyed the first and the second time, and Beth-Tor was captured and the City was ploughed up. When Av comes in, gladness must be diminished." [Mishnah, Taanith 4:6]

What are these things of which Mishnah speaks? The 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av are linked together historically as days on which Israel has been punished for sin.

To discover why the ninth day of the fifth month, the month of Av (Tisha B'Av) was a fast day and a day of mourning; it is necessary to examine the events that occurred on this date in history.

On Tisha B'Av, five national calamities occurred:

1. During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 12 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE) (Mishna, Ta'anit 4:6)

2. The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonian's fire, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE). A year after the Temple was burned, Micah 3: 12 was fulfilled. (Mishna, Ta'anit 4:6)

3. The Romans, led by Titus destroyed the Second Temple. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (Mishna, Ta'anit 4:6)

In 70 CE the Roman army laid siege to Jerusalem and on the 17th of Tammuz the Daily Sacrifice was again stopped. Roman centurions on the 9th of A v burned the Second Temple. The extreme heat of the fire caused gold of the Temple to melt and run in to the cracks and crevices between the stones. When the fire cooled the Roman soldiers used wedges and crowbars to overturn every stone in their search 'for the gold.

One year later on the 9th of Av the Romans plowed the Temple Mount and the city of Jerusalem to prepare the area to be turned into a Roman colony.

Micah 3:12 "Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, and the Temple hill, a mound overgrown with thickets. "

4. The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar - the Jews' last stand against the Romans - was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 BCE) (Mishna, Ta'anit 4:6)

5. The Roman general Turnus Rufus plowed under the Temple area and its surroundings. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city - renamed Aelia Capitolina - and access was forbidden to Jews. (Mishna, Ta'anit 4:6)

Several other calamitous events took place on Tisha B'Av:

1. Esau confronted Jacob, on his return to Canaan. Genesis 33:1ff Rashal Bereshit Vayish quoted in Seder HaDorot.

Other grave misfortunes throughout Jewish history occurred on the Ninth of Av, including:

1. Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed, and many Jewish communities obliterated.

2. In 1290 King Edward I ordered the expulsion of all Jews from England on the 9th of Av. (And they did not regain the right to settle there again until 1657.)

3. The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B'Av in 1492. This is the same date on which Christopher Columbus (himself a Jew) set sail.

4. World War One broke out on Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Russia declared war on Germany. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.

5. On Tisha B'Av, deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.

6. The Gulf war started on the 9th of Av, when Saddam Hussein went to war against Kuwait and in the months that followed proceeded to hurl his missiles at Israel.

As a side note: The only observed collision between a planet and another solar body began on Tisha B'Av, a Sabbath. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 began slamming into the surface of the planet Jupiter, known in Hebrew as Zedek, the righteous one. This event may have connections to the other Tisha B'Av events. On July 17 (Tisha B'Av) 1994, the planet Jupiter was struck by 21 fragments of a comet. The comet (Shoemaker-Levy 9) collided with this planet.. likely fulfilling Luke 21:26, where Jesus says that, prior to his return the "heavenly bodies would be shaken." Is all this coincidence? I don't think so. Jupiter was the high-god of Rome, it was the one whose temple replaced God's house in Jerusalem and whose name (Capitolina) adorned the city for centuries. Jupiter (also known as Marduk to Babylonians) was the high god of Zoroastrianism, the religion of Nebuchadnezzar (who had the first temple burned in 586b c). See the connection? God had symbolic "revenge" on Rome ­and- Babylon through Jupiter (high god of both empires), when the planet was pummeled on this fitting anniversary in 1994.

So, why do we fast on the 9th? Before the Gemora addresses this question, in mentions the opinion of Rabbi Yochanan on this topic. R' Yochanan said that "If I had been present at the time when the Sages established the day as a fast, I would have established the 10th of A v as the day of the fast, as that was the day the Temple burnt for the most part." The Sages disagreed and felt that the fast should be on the ninth. The Gemora explains that the opinion of the Sages was that it was better to fix the commemoration according to the beginning of the calamity (the 9th of Av, when the Temple was first set on fire), rather than according to the day on which the unfolding of the calamity itself occurred for the most part.

The fast of the 9th of A v is the fast, which is second most in importance and in severity of restrictions, coming behind only Yom HaKippurim.

Since these tragedies occurred on Tisha B'Av, Chazal decreed this day as a fast day. The restrictions on the 9th of A v are more severe than the other fast days ordained by Chazal.

According to Jewish tradition, the ninth day of the fifth Jewish month (also known as Av) is the saddest day on the Hebrew calendar. This day of solemn reflection & fasting has been observed since the destruction of Solomon's temple in 586 bc. It is still observed today.

Why did so many tragedies befall us on the same date? Are some days less auspicious or "unluckier" than others are? The Gemara (Shabbat 146a) states clearly that such things as luck or astrological influences do not govern the Children of Israel's fortunes. What then is to be understood from the coincidence of so many sad events happening on one day? The Talmud reveals to us the answer to this question: "Reward is saved for a day of merit, and destruction is saved for a day of guilt" (Ta'anit 29a). Because our forefathers committed such a terrible sin on the ninth of Av in the times of Moshe, the day became one reserved for destruction. Every year, when that day comes around, the original sin of our forefathers is brought back to light. Since we have not yet fully corrected their misdeeds, Hashem may not extend to us His usual loving-kindness on that day, leaving us vulnerable to impending adversity. The ninth of Av has thus become a "weak link" in the chain of Jewish history. (A similar reasoning can be extended to the 17th of Tammuz, as we shall soon see.)

The Sages of the Talmud (Sanhedrin 90a) tell us that whenever Hashem punishes someone it is always done in such a way that the punishment corresponds to the sin that was committed ("Measure for measure"). One classic example of this is the punishment of the Egyptians who enslaved the Children of Israel. The Egyptians persecuted the Israelites through water, by drowning Jewish babies in the Nile river (Exodus 1 :22), and their ultimate punishment was that they themselves were drowned in the Red Sea (ibid. Chap. 14, see Rashi Exodus 18:11)

As we have pointed out, the catastrophic events of the ninth of Av were all precipitated by the original sin of Moshe's generation. Here, too, it can be shown that the specific events that transpired on these days were all clearly wrought with the theme of "Middah Keneged Middah", measure for measure.

Let us first consider what the Tisha B'Av sin of our ancestors was. The Jews sent spies to scout out the Land of Israel prior to entering in. The spies brought a bad report, and the people believed the bad report. Instead of trusting in Hashem and His appointed leaders, the people rallied rebelliously behind the sinful spies.

Exodus 14:1 "The people wept all through that night".

This sin, the Mishna tells us, took place on Tisha B'Av. "That night that the people wept was Tisha B'Aveve. Hashem said to them, 'You wept on this day for no good reason; I will establish this day as a day of weeping for all generations' " (Ta'anit 29a). The tragedies that befell the Jews throughout the generations were apparently further punishments for the original sinful act committed by the generation of the Exodus.

The Torah tells us that the punishment meted out immediately to those who allied themselves with the spies was that they would have to wander about in the desert for forty years:

Numbers 14:34 "one year for each day" of the spies' excursion.

The Torah makes it clear that the punishment of forty years in the desert was "measure for measure", forty for forty. Can we say the same of the latter-day punishments, the four tragedies listed in the Mishna in Ta'anit? A closer examination reveals that in fact we may.

The sin of the Children of Israel was that they rejected the Land of Israel. They were willing to pass up possession of the Promised Land, not even trying to conquer it, although Hashem had already told them of its unique virtues.

The fall of the Temples that took place centuries later was more than just a loss of the opportunity to perform the sacrificial rite ordained by the Torah. It was the event that, symbolically and actually, spelled the end of organized Jewish settlement in Israel. The destruction of the Temple and the concept of exile are always considered to be two sides of the same coin by our Sages(1). The Torah itself seems to make this connection in:

Leviticus 26:31-2 "I will destroy your Temple... and will scatter you among the nations."

It is clear that the punishment of the destruction of the Temple, which is tantamount to exile of the population, has a very close correlation with the original sin of Tisha B'Av. Because the Children of Israel expressed on Tisha B'Av an unwillingness to accept the gift of the Land of Israel, they eventually lost the Land of Israel on that same date.

Betar was the central stronghold of the Bar Kochba rebellion against Rome[2]. Some sixty years after the destruction of the second Temple the Jews, led by the charismatic and courageous Bar Kochba, tried to throw off the Roman yoke from their necks. They even succeeded to some degree in establishing an autonomous Jewish state in Israel for several years (132-135 CE). When the Bar Kochba uprising was finally put down by the Romans with the fall of Betar, it effectively represented the end of any Jewish hope to sovereignty in the Land of Israel for the foreseeable future. This too, then, is clearly an appropriate punishment for the original sin of the spies and their rejection of the Land of Israel.

The last of the five events of Tisha B'Av can be interpreted along the same lines. The final razing of Jerusalem was designed to quash any hopes among the Jews for a restoration of their sovereignty, or even of their ability to dwell, in the city. Once again, on the very date, which marked the Children of Israel's original spurning of Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, the land was showing it's own scorn for them.

I. The prohibitions

The basic prohibitions of the day are:

1. Eating,
2. Drinking,
3. Washing,
4. Cohabitation,
5. Wearing leather shoes,
6. Learning Torah (with exceptions), and
7. Anointing with oil- once the practice of Kings.

We will explore these in more depth in the following sections.

I. Why do we fast?

Apart from the mitzvah to pray every day, there is a special commandment to pray in times of national calamity. According to the Rambam (beginning of Hilkhot Ta'aniyot), the verse "And if war should come upon your land, the enemy who troubles you, you shall blow on the trumpets" (Bemidbar 10:9) is not a commandment simply to blow the trumpets, but rather includes prayer and petition. Even the Ramban, who rules (in opposition to the Rambam) that daily prayer is only a rabbinic commandment, admits at least partially that there is a biblical commandment to pray in times of calamity. He declares, "And if perhaps they interpret prayer as a biblically-derived principle... then this is a mitzvah for times of calamity... "[3]. The foundation for the obligation to cry out to God in times of calamity is the obligation of teshuva. And so the Rambam continues, “And this is part of teshuva...” There is a special obligation of teshuva in times of calamity, as it is written:

Deuteronomy 4:30 "When you are in distress and all these things befall you... you shall return to the Lord your God"[4]

The Rambam explains, It At a time when calamity strikes and they cry out and they blow on the trumpets, all will know that calamity has come upon them because of their evil deeds... and this is what will cause the calamity to be lifted from upon them. But if they do not cry out and do not blow [trumpets] but rather say, 'This has happened to us since this is the way of the world, and this calamity is coincidental,' this is the way of gross insensitivity, and will cause them to hold fast to their evil deeds, and other calamities will be added. This is what the Torah means when it says, 'And if you walk crookedly (in Hebrew: “keri,” from the root of the word meaning “coincidence”) with Me then I will likewise walk crookedly with you' - in other words, I shall bring calamity upon you in order that you return. If you maintain that your calamities are coincidental then I will increase those 'coincidental' calamities.“

The biblical obligation of prayer and teshuva, repentance, at a time of calamity is extended by our Sages to obligate fasting: “And the Rabbis instructed that there should be fasting for every calamity, which comes upon the community, until Divine mercy is achieved"[5]. And what stands at the center of these obligations is the Divine Providence, which watches over Knesset Yisrael and entreats them, calling: "Shuvu banim shovavim - Return, O backsliding children!" Obviously, the very obligation to pray and fast at a time of calamity is based on the assumption that by means of sincere and genuine teshuva the calamity will be removed.

As opposed to “tcalamity” (tzara) an “evil decree” (gezera) cannot be removed. It expresses not Divine Providence but rather the distancing of the Divine Presence and God "hiding His face, It as it were. “Rabbi Elazar said: Since the day on which the Temple was destroyed, there is a wall of iron that stands between Israel and their Father in Heaven”[6]. The reaction to an evil decree is not prayer but rather mourning and surrender to God's inscrutable will. "And Rabbi Elazar said: Since the day on which the Temple was destroyed, the gates of prayer are locked" [7]

The seventeenth of Tammuz, despite the five tragic events, which took place on this day, is defined as a day of calamity. It is true that on this date the first set of tablets were shattered, but following prayer on the part of Moshe Rabbeinu and teshuva on the part of the nation, we merited to receive a second set of tablets. Likewise, on this date the walls of Jerusalem were indeed breached, the enemies stood ready to enter, and, therefore, it was a time of calamity for the Jewish nation. But it was only on Tisha B'Av that a tragic decree was issued: "On Tisha B'Av it was decreed upon our forefathers that they would not enter the land, It and despite Moshe's entreaties, the attempts to mitigate the sharpness of the decree reached its tragic conclusion at Chorma [8].

On the other fasts there is a special obligation of prayer and entreaties. The selichot and Torah portions read on these fasts, focus on Moshe Rabbeinu's prayer following the sin of the golden calf ­the declaration of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. On the other hand, on Tisha B'Av - the day established for weeping for all generations - we sit on the floor, read Eikha, Lamentations, and recite lamentations, and the Torah reading and haftara on this day speak of the destruction. This distinction between Tisha B'Av and the other fasts was already formulated by Rabbenu David [9]: "On Tisha B'Av there is no 'Ne'ila' prayer, nor are twenty-four blessings recited, because [this day] is set aside not for prayer but rather for mourning. "[10] Likewise, on Tisha B'Av the "titkabel" clause is not included in the recitation of Kaddish [11], and the sheliach tzibbur, the prayer leader, does not recite "Aneinu" in his repetition of the Amida of Shacharit [12]. Rav Soloveitchik, zt"l, explained that only on the other fasts does one fulfill the special obligation of prayer at a time of calamity, as explained above. But on Tisha B'Av, "Even though I cry out and call for help, He has blocked my prayer"[13]. Thus, even though Tisha B'Av has the status of a fast day, it is still entirely different in its nature and purpose from any other public fast.

In terms of the other prohibitions of the day, Tisha B'Av is again different from the other fasts. On one hand, there are prohibitions, which are similar to those of Yom HaKippurim[14]. On the other hand, these prohibitions reflect the mourning of Tisha B'Av, rather than the positive obligations of prayer and teshuva. The Gemara[l5] states, "The Rabbis taught, all the laws pertaining to mourning apply on Tisha B'Av as well; a person is forbidden to eat and drink (these are not forbidden to a regular mourner; see Rashi and the Rif, as well as Rav Soloveitchik's essay in "Shiurim Le-zekher Abba Mari" regarding public fasts), to anoint his body, to wear leather shoes and to engage in sexual intercourse.. ." (Rav Soloveitchik deals at length with the similarity to mourning customs.)

In light of the above, let us return to the sugya in Rosh Hashana: "Tisha B'Av is different since on this day many sorrows befell us." According to the fundamental distinction which we have drawn between a calamity and a decree, we can explain that what we are referring to here is not a quantitative addition of calamities on Tisha B 'A v over and above those of any other fast. We are dealing not with a calamity but rather with a decree. Therefore, we do not fast within the framework of the obligations of prayer and teshuva in order that the calamity will pass, but rather as part of our expression of sorrow and mourning over the bitter decree.