A bit of learning from Adas Israel the Jewish Congregation of Mason City, Iowa. Starting at sundown tonight (31st of July) Jews around the world will mark the mournful holiday of Tisha B' Av or the Ninth Day of the Hebrew Month of Av. We do so by fasting from sundown to sundown, do not shave or sit on chairs, wear leather products, refrain from going to parties or social gathers and we read from the Book of Lamentations which is Jeremiah's poetic lament over the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple.
What could bring about such mournfulness among the Jews of today?
Because we believe that nothing happens by chance and that G-d is in control of everything we mourn and remember the terrible things that occurred on this dreadful day:
- During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 10 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)
- The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)
- The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)
- 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 CE)
- The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city – renamed Aelia Capitolina – and access was forbidden to Jews.
Other grave misfortunes throughout Jewish history occurred on the Ninth of Av, including:
- The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B'Av in 1492.
- World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.
- On the eve of Tisha B'Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
Clearly reason to fast, pray and remember to ask for forgiveness.
Thank you for reading/learning and may you have an easy fast.