Like all religions, I think, we have days of joy, days of inner inspection. We have days of rest and we have days, even long periods of sadness…it is inevitable with a religion as old as ours. Almost three weeks ago, we began a period of mourning, a time that marks horrible, tragic, and endlessly sad days in which great people were murdered, students of beloved teachers tortured.
If there is one day that fills us with a connection to the tragedies of our past and shakes us each year to the depths of our souls, it would be the ninth day of the month of Av. It is amazing how many bad things have happened to us on this day and the days leading up to it. Some are our own, some are the worlds. Here’s just a short list of some of the things that happened on Tisha B’Av – the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av:
- The first Holy Temple was destroyed
- The second Holy Temple was set on fire by the Romans. It burned on the 9th day, and on to the morning of the 10th.
- On the ninth of Av it was decreed that our fathers should not enter the Land of Israel.
- Bethar was captured and Jerusalem was razed. -Mishnah Ta’anit 4:6
- The First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II in 1095, killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland.
- Jews were expelled from England in 1290.
- Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 by the Spanish Inquisition and the 9th of Av was the day they were ordered to be exiled (or killed).
- On Tisha B’Av 1914 (August 1, 1914), World War I broke out
It’s a humbling experience to sit on the floor and read the Book of Lamentations. To feel God withdrawing His blessings and wonder if there is any hope. There is such sadness, such destruction, but ultimately, the hope returns, the dream returns, and the people return.