Tisha B’Av

Tisha B’Av & the Three Weeks
This season is called Tisha B’Av by the Jewish writers.

This term means “between the strictures”, “between the straits” or “dire straits”. This season is a three-week cycle beginning on the 17th of Tammuz extending until the 9th of Av in the Judaic calendar. Tammuz 17 (July 24) and Av 9 (August 13-14) in 2005.

History records many of the catastrophic events that have taken place on these dates.

17th of Tammuz

♦ Moses smashed the tablets of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.
♦ Daily sacrifices ceased.
♦ A Torah scroll was burned in the Temple by “Apostomos.”
♦ An idol was erected in the Temple.
♦ The city wall was finally breached.

9th Av

♦ 1200 B.C.- Israel told by God in the wilderness that generation would not enter the land of promise.
♦ 586 B.C – The Babylonian army destroyed the Holy Temple.
♦ 70 A.D. – Titus and the Roman army destroyed the Holy Temple
♦ 135 A.D. – “Bethar” the stronghold of Bar Kochba, fell ending the last trial for Jewish Independence.
♦ 136 A.D. – Rome began to erect the pagan city on site of the Temple dedication.
♦ 1096 A.D. – The first crusades began.
♦ 1290 A.D. – The Jews were expelled from England.
♦ 1306 A.D. – The Jews were expelled from France.
♦ 1492 A.D. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella signed expulsion. By July, on the 9th of AV, all Jews had to be out of Spain.
♦ 1648 A.D. – Chmelnicky massacred tens of thousands of Polish Jews.
♦ 1914 A.D. – Declarations for World World I began.
♦ 1942 A.D. – Plans for the annihilation of Jews were drafted escalating World War II.

Historically, the twenty-one days extending from the 17th of Tammuz until the 9th of Av represented a notable time of bitterness and destruction for the Jews. According to the Rabbis, the demon that prevails during this time is also called “ketev” meaning destruction/bitterness.

The Jewish Rabbis regarded “ketev” not solely as a plague, but a demon with authority to cause death and destruction through plagues. It was during this precise time that the Lord’s prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem was fulfilled. On the 17th of Tammuz 70 A.D. the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem. For three weeks Roman troops ransacked and destroyed the city until the 9th of Av when they burned the Temple. In both the Babylonian and Roman captivity, the Temple was destroyed on this agonizing date. It is reported that during the Holocaust, the Nazis systematically chose the 9th of Av to carry out murderous and other demonically inspired actions against the Jewish community.

The prophet Zechariah spoke of these dates in Zechariah 8:19:

Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth {months} will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.’ (Zechariah 8:19)

The fast of the fourth month was to be conducted on the 17th of Tammuz representing a day of mourning because of the capture of Jerusalem and the various other calamitous events that took place on this date. The fast of the fifth month was to take place on the 9th of AV because of the historical tragedies that occurred on this date. These periods of mourning and fasting were to be conducted until the promise of the coming restoration of Judah and the Messianic Kingdom.

Tammuz 17 is a fastday, on which we refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to nightfall. Av 9 (Tishah B’Av) is a more stringent fast: it commences at sunset of the previous evening, and additional pleasures (washing, anointing, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations) are also proscribed. On Tishah B’Av we gather in the synagogue to read the Book of Lamentations composed by Jeremiah and kinot (elegies) on the Destruction and Exile.

During the Three Weeks we read the “Three of Rebuke”-three weekly readings from the Prophets which prophesy the Destruction, describe the sins which caused it, and admonish us to repent our ways. During the Three Weeks, no weddings or other joyous events are held; like mourners, we do not cut our hair or purchase new clothes. Additional mourning practices are assumed during the “Nine Days” beginning on Av 1, such as refraining from eating meat, drinking wine and enjoying music.

But there is more to the Three Weeks than fasting and lamentation. The prophet describes the fasts as “days of goodwill before G-d”-days of opportunity to exploit the failings of the past as the impetus for a renewed and even deeper bond with G-d. A sense of purification accompanies the fasting, a promise of redemption pervades the mourning, and a current of joy underlies the sadness.

Ocean Guy is good about alerting readers to the Jewish Holidays and he linked to the blogburst idea, to which I am contributing this post ( although out of sync as is usual for me).

-info from a Christian teaching and chabad.org.

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