This week we commemorated Tisha B’Av. The ninth day of the month of Av. The worst date of the year In Judaism throughout our history.
Here are some of the horrific events that happened on the 9th day of Av (some of these dates are considered traditionally to have happened on Tisha B’Av, though there is no actual way of proving it):
∴ Circa 1312 BC: God declares that the Israelites will wonder in the desert for 40 years, because they chose to believe the report of the 10 spies, and not His promises
∴ 586 BC: First temple destroyed by the Babyloneans
∴ 70 AD: Second temple was destroyed by Titus the Greek
∴ 135 AD: The city of Beitar conquored by the Romans, representing the end of the Bar Kochva revolt
∴ 135 AD: Jerusalem plowed by the Romans, to symbolize its total destruction
∴ 1290 AD: Edward, King of England, ordered to expel all Jews from England, and kill all that remained
∴ 1492 AD: The infamous deportation of the Spanish Jews
∴ 1942: A mass deportation of the Jews of Warsa to the Treblinka extermination camp
∴ 2005: The coerced evacuation of Gush Katif, former group of Jewish settlements which bordered the southwestern edge of Gaza
Orthodox Jews flood their local synagogues and the Western Wall during the ninth day of Av. They sit on the floor, read the book of lamentations and fast for more than 24 hours. This is the fast of the 5th month of which God speaks in the Bible.
Soldiers from the Golani Brigade
fasting and praying at the Western Wall
I recently learned something really interesting about this fast. Never heard it before. Apparently, at the end of the fast, orthodox women (mostly Sephardic Jews) return home from synagogue, and start cleaning their homes diligently, polishing it, even painting the walls afresh. Why? Because in the face of destruction, the nation is always looking for some hope. And what is the hope of these women? “The coming of the Messiah,” they say. They clean their homes in preparation for Him, in case He will show up. There is even a Talmudic tradition (tract Berachot) that speaks about the Messiah being born on that day.
The prophet Zechariah prophesied that this fast will turn one day into a joyful event (8:19). We do not know when exactly, but we do see the widow Israel, who mourned this week the destruction of her holiest sites – a destruction that led to the exile of her children, that marked the beginning of her physical widowhood (being desolate, without anyone to take care of her, with her Husband turning His face away from her) – starting to get it, to search for Him (see more about it in my article Israel, a widow?).
Multitudes of Jews mourned that widowhood (though they don’t use that term), and ended it with a ray of hope for the coming of a Messiah, not realizing He is already in our midst.
If Israel is on your heart, and you are looking to enrich your prayers on her behalf, you are welcome to join us as we pray:
∴ That the widow will desire to see her Husband.
∴ That our nation will pursue righteousness, and worship Him alone. The disasters that came upon our nation were not a coincidence. God warned us again and again that this will happen if we neglect to act justly and righteously, and if we worship others besides Him. We turned a deaf ear, He turned His face and His protective Hand away from us.
∴ That the physical restoration of the widow Israel will lead to her spiritual restoration, meaning that the widow will finally realize she does have a Husband, and that she can lean on Him for provision and safety.
A restored bride, who suffered many losses
∴ That the nation will forget the shame of our youth and not remember the reproach of her widowhood anymore, but call on the name of her Husband and Maker – the Lord of Hosts, her Redeemer (Isa. 54: 4-8).