Tisha B’Av on July 17 this year, is an annual fast day in Judaism. It is also known as one of the most tragic days in Jewish history since it saw a number of disasters that affected Jews for years to come. The day of mourning takes place to mark the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by the Neo-Babylonian Empire and the Second Temple by the Roman Empire in Jerusalem. Av 9 (day nine) is also the time that saw the fall of Bethar, and the end of the Jewish rebellion against Rome. Here’s all you need to know about the day.
History of Tisha B'Av
Tisha B’Av has a catastrophic history that is still remembered by Jews across the world. This is why the day of mourning is observed religiously every year. Apart from fasting and praying, Tisha B’Av also serves the purpose of recalling the sufferings the Jewish people went through to obtain the status they have in the world today. It all started when Jews were awaiting to find a way into the Promised Land. Alas, they received no hope of beginning their new lives in Israel. This was followed by the first blow to the Jewish faith when the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. During this invasion, almost 100,000 Jews were killed and the survivors were exiled. Around 133 A.D., the Romans built the city of Aelia Capitolina on the sacred site.
Then came the time when the Roman Empire reigned the land. During this era, the Second Temple was also destroyed and over 2,500,000 Jews died as a result of war, famine, and disease. About 100,000 Jews were captured and sold as slaves by Romans for labor and blood sport. This, however, was not the end of the calamities faced by Jews as, around the year 1095, the First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II. This war led to the death of thousands of Jews, while others were displaced from their homes and continued to live a life of fear and turmoil. One of the final blows to the Jewish faith was the Holocaust in Germany where one-third of the world’s Jewish population was escorted to death’s door.
Tisha B'Av timeline
Jews receive frightening reports about the Promised Land.
The Babylonians burn the first temple.
Jews are cast out of England.
Spain banishes the Jews.
Tisha B'Av FAQs
What does ‘Tisha’ mean in Hebrew?
‘Tisha’ in Hebrew is ‘number nine.’ It stands for day nine of the month of Av.
What does ‘Av’ mean in Hebrew?
‘Av’ in Hebrew, is the fifth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar.
What are the nine days in Judaism?
The nine days of Av are all about spiritual observance in Judaism.
How to Observe Tisha B'Av
Fast on the day
According to the religious tradition, all Jews must fast on this day to express the sorrow they feel due to the destruction brought on the people of the Torah.
Read the Torah
It is essential for Jews to pray and remember God throughout the day. They believe that reading the Torah brings them closer to their creator.
Visit the synagogue
To participate in worship, visit the synagogue and spend as much time there as you want. Also, being around other mourning individuals will make you realize you aren’t alone.
5 Facts You Need To Know About Tisha B'Av
Jews also abstain from sexual activity on this day.
Shaving and applying cosmetics are not permitted.
The pre-fast meal
The pre-fast meal or ‘seudah ha-mafaseket’ means ‘meal of separation.’
The Jews are expected to refrain from smiling, laughter, and idle conversation.
Getting ready for the fast
The pre-fast meal traditionally contains bread, water, and a hard-boiled egg dipped in ashes.
Why Tisha B’Av is Important
It’s an insight into Jewish history
Jewish history is tainted with death and atrocities committed against the Jews by people of other cultures and religions. It's days like these that bring the past into the present for Jewish children and people of other religions.
It highlights the atrocities committed against Jews
The day is an important reminder of all the sufferings Jews faced during this time period. This is done to show the younger Jews the importance of the day, and how long the Jews fought before they attained peace.
It teaches us not to repeat history
History can repeat itself if we don’t watch the warning signs. On Tisha B’Av, people are reminded of how hate crimes against certain religions can escalate if people don’t raise their voices.
Tisha B'Av dates