Tisha B’Av. The Saddest day on the Jewish Calendar

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MEANING:

The ninth (tisha) of the Jewish month of Av

CORRESPONDING DATE IN 2008 GREGORIAN CALENDAR:

August 10 (begins sundown, August 9)

MEMORIALIZES:

The destruction of the First and Second Temples in 586 B.C. and 70 A.D. which, according to Jewish tradition, occurred on this date.

OTHER TRAGEDIES TRADITIONALLY ASSOCIATED WITH TISHA B’AV:

Unknown date: This is believed to be the day that God decreed that the generation that left Egypt could not enter the Promised Land.

  • 135 A.D.: The town of Bethar, where the last holdouts from the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome resided, was captured.
  • 136 A.D.: Jerusalem utterly destroyed by Rome
  • 1492: Expulsion from Spain —the last date for all Jews to leave the country
  • 1914: World War I began, considered by some to be the start of events that ultimately led to the Holocaust
  • 1942: first deportations from Warsaw to Treblinka concentration camp during the Holocaust.

CUSTOMS:

Abstinence from:

  • Food and drink
  • Bathing, shaving, use of perfumes, aftershave, etc.
  • Wearing leather shoes
  • Marital relations
  • Bible study except for “mourning” texts such as Lamentations or Job

SYNAGOGUE RITUALS:

  • Evening service (which begins the day): Book of Lamentations read
  • Morning service: Reading of kinot, liturgical poetry concerning suffering, many of medieval origin; many Sephardim also read the Book of Job

IN THE ARTS:

  • In the Third Movement of Leonard Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony, portions
    of Lamentations are sung to the synagogue melody traditionally used on Tisha B’Av.
  • Adolf Abraham Berman’s oil painting Tisha B’Av.

ADDITIONAL ONLINE INFORMATION:

Explanation on YouTube by Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

CONNECTION TO MESSIAH:

According to one tradition, the Messiah will be born on Tisha B’Av—as if to say that God’s deliverance will turn a traditional day of mourning into a cause for rejoicing.

Have Questions?

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Rich Robinson | San Francisco

Scholar in Residence, Missionary

Rich Robinson is a veteran missionary and senior researcher at the San Francisco headquarters of Jews for Jesus. Rich has written several books on Jewishness and Jesus, and he received his Ph.D. in biblical studies and hermeneutics from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1993.

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Have Questions?

Connect with Jews for Jesus. No matter where you are on the journey of life, whether you’re Jewish or non-Jewish, a believer in Jesus or not—we want to hear from you. Chat with someone online or connect via our contact page below.  
Live ChatContact Jews for Jesus