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Religion
Holy Days

Tish B'Av

What does Tish B'Av commemorate?

The name Tish B'Av simply means "Ninth day of the month of Av".

Almost all of the major Jewish tragedies happened on this day.

It is an ancient fast day, probably referred to as "the fast during the fifth month" in Zechariah 7:5 and 8:19.

Hebrew Year Common Year Event
~2448 ~1312 B.C. According to tradition, the spies return from 40 days in Israel with evil reports of the Land of Israel. Jewish people rebel against God's plans and are sentenced with 40 years of wandering in the desert, until all the adults have died.
3340 421 B.C. The First Temple is destroyed by the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar. About 100,000 Jews killed during invasion. Exile of remaining tribes in southern kingdom to Babylon and Persia.
3830 70 The Second Temple is destroyed by the Romans, under Titus. Over 2,500,000 Jews die as a result of war, famine and disease. Over 1,000,000 Jews exiled to all parts of the Roman Empire. Over 100,000 Jews sold as slaves by Romans.
3892 132 The Bar Kochba revolt is crushed, and over 100,000 Jews killed.
3893 133 Turnus Rufus plows the site of the Temple. The Romans build pagan city of Aelia Capitolina on site of Jerusalem.
4855 1095 The First Crusade is declared by Pope Urban II. 10,000 Jews killed in the Crusade's first month. The Crusades bring death and destruction to thousands of Jews and totally obliterate many communities in Rhineland and France.
5050 1290 Edward I expells the Jews from England.
5066 1306 The expulsion of the Jews from France.
5252 1492 The Inquisition in Spain and Portugal culminates in the Alhabra Decree, expelling the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula.
5315 1555 Jews are assigned to live in a ghetto for the first time, in Rome, near the Tiber.
5408 1648 Chmelnicky massacres tens of thousands of Polish Jews.
5674 1914 Britain and Russia declare war on Germany and World War I begins. Due to the war, over 400 pogroms begin Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and Russia. The factors leading to World War II and the Holocaust are put in motion.
5689 1929 An anti-Jewish Arab riot happens in Jerusalem for the first time.
5701 1941 Hermann Goering and Reinhard Heydrich finish organizing the "Final Solution". Its programs start in September 1941 and are announced publicly at The Wannsee Conference in January 1942.
5702 1942 Deportations from Warsaw Ghetto begin. Treblinka extermination camp opens.

How do we celebrate Tish B'Av?

There are many traditional ways of expression sorrow for past tragedies. These include acts of mourning (prayer, sitting on the floor or low stools, avoiding work and unimportant talk), acts of self-denial (fasting, not washing or shaving, not wearing leather, not engaging in sexual relations), and reading the Book of Lamentations.

In the synagogue it is also traditional to replace the curtain in the ark with a black curtain.

Some Jews eat a simple dinner on Erev Tish B'Av of a hard-boiled egg and bread.

Believers should remember that God yearns even more than we do for this imperfect world to be replaced with the World to Come. The tradgedies created by people grieve God even more than us. We should use traditions that help us identify with God and grieve with him, and with him yearn for the World to Come.

This day also reminds us that God is sovereign, even if he allows tragedies to occur. His respect for human free will is so great that he allows evil to flourish in this world. But in his desire to display his sovereignty will sometimes still show his control in small ways, such as arranging for tragedies to happen on the same calendar day. We should praise God for being sovereign even as we express the pain caused by the evil he allows.