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August 04, 1989 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-08-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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isha B'Av, the ninth
day of the Jewish
month of Av will be
marked Thursday. Historical-
ly it is the central day of
mourning. It was first mark-
ed when the First Thmple in
Jerusalem was destroyed by
the Babylonians on this day
in 586 BCE, and was reinforc-
ed when the Second Thmple
was sacked by the Roman
legions in the year 70 on the
same day.
Traditionally, Tisha B'Av
has been said to mark the
beginning of the Crusades in
1096, the burning of the
Talmud in Paris in 1242 and
the start of the Inquisition in
Spain in 1480. There are
many other tragedies in
Jewish history, even in
modern times, that have
become associated with this
date.
In Jewish tradition, Tisha
B'Av has become known as
the "Black Fast," in contrast
to Yom Kippur, the "White
Fast." In many Sephardic syn-
agogues, a black curtain is
placed over the ark contain-
ing the rIbrah. By contrast, on
Yom Kippur, white ark covers
are used.
In some synagogues, an at-
mosphere of sadness is
created by dimming or turn-
ing off the lights and using
candles.
The custom of fasting on
Tisha B'Av was observed as
early as the second century.
This was followed by a
gradual evolution of customs
to prepare for the day of
sorrow.
For example, marriages
were prohibited three weeks
prior to Tisha B'Av, and
beginning on the first day of
Av, some began to refrain
from eating meat and men
did not shave.
On the day itself, customs

reflected mourning-like
rituals: Bathing on this day
was forbidden and washing
the face and hands was only
permitted for purposes of
cleanliness.
There was also a prohibi-
tion against wearing shoes of
leather and sitting on low
stools or on the ground was
deemed appropriate.
Today, many of the tradi-
tions are still observed, even
sprinkling ashes on one's
head, a clear reflection of an
even more ancient mourning
practice.
In addition to these tradi-
tions, various rituals have
made their way into the syn-
agogue and the service. Since
the Middle Ages, it has been
the practice not to wear tallit
and tefillin during the morn-
ing service on Tisha B'Av
because these ritual objects
are traditionally considered
to be ornaments for the Jew.
One refrains from wearing
them at the normal time — in
the morning — but instead
puts them on at the afternoon
service, thereby fulfilling the
commandment that they
must be worn every day ex-
cept Shabbat and certain
holidays.
The most moving part of the
service centers about the
recitation of the Book of
Lamentations, followed by
many kinot, or dirges.
There is a traditional chant
that utilizes the rise and fall
of the voice to reflect the an-
cient trauma that Jews ex-
perienced with the destruc-
tion of the Thmple and other
tragic events in Jewish
history.
Tisha B'Av also marks the
beginning of the form of
Judaism that has endured
throughout the ages. During
this time the rabbinic period
began to flourish and the
basic form and content of
Jewish thought and practice
was set.



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