Tisha B’av – A Communal Day of Mourning
Tisha B’av is a Jewish day of both fasting and mourning. This day occurs on the ninth day of Av. Av is the fifth month of the Jewish calendar. In the western calendar that you are more familiar with, this day usually occurs in either late July or early August. The purpose of this day is to remember the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. Some of the most significant tragedies to have befallen the Jewish people occurred on this day in history. In this article, you will learn about some of the tragedies that are kept in mind during this day of mourning, some of the customs of contemporary Jews, and how this day is observed in synagogue.
There are two historical events that Jews primarily mourn on Tisha B’av. These are the destruction of the first Temple and the destruction of the second Temple. The destruction of the first Temple occurred in 586 B.C. This was done by the Babylonians. The destruction of the second Temple occurred in 70 C.E. The “C.E.” means “Christian Era” and is what Jewish people use instead of the popular A.D., which means “Year of Our Lord.” Since Jews don’t believe that Jesus was their L-rd, they do not use this form of keeping dates.
There were many other tragedies that befell the Jewish people on Tisha B’av. One of the most significant of these was how the Jews were forced out of Spain in the late fifteenth century. This day of mourning, however, is not only used to commemorate tragedies that occurred on this date. The observance is also used to mourn for all tragedies that affected the Jewish people. It is a day of communal awareness of the hardships of the Jewish people throughout history. The roots of this day are nonetheless in the destruction of the first and second Temples hundreds of years ago.
The customs for Tisha B’av are very similar to those of Yom Kippur. This means that followers fast, which consists of not eating or drinking. Observant Jews may not even drink water. Many Jewish people observing this day will also not shower, shave, use makeup, or wear leather footwear. People who suffer from health problems are not to participate in the fasting. Observant Jews are concerned about their health will consult a rabbi for guidance. It is also customary to drape the cabinet that holds in the Torah in black on this day.
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