We mourn its destruction. Now learn what it was. One
fact for each day of August, the month of Tisha bAv.
When It's Observed: The ninth (tisha) day of the
Hebrew month of Av. This year, Tisha b'Av begins Wednesday
night, Aug. 6.
Why Its Observed:
On this day, on two separate occa-
sions, the Holy Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed. According to
tradition, other destructions also have befallen the Jewish people
on the 9th of Av.
What We Do:
Tisha b'Av is one of only two full fasts (the
other is Yom Kippur), with no eating or drinking from sunset to
sundown (except for those who, for medical reasons, may not fast),
on the Jewish calendar. Further, we do not wear leather shoes or
use perfume, bathe for pleasure or engage in marital relations. One
is not allowed any enjoyable activity on Tisha b'Av, even the study
of Torah, though one may read Eichah (Book of Lamentations) and
the Book of Job.
Traditions: Before the fast begins, many will eat a last meal
consisting of bread and an egg. Those who study Torah will limit
this material to sad topics. Synagogues will take down the curtain
on the Ark and subdue the lighting in the sanctuary.
Th e Service:
During Matzriv (evening) services on Tisha
in the synagogue after regular dawning, or
b'Av, we read
prayer. Those who come to pray sit on the floor or low stools,
appropriate for mourners. Those who are still wearing leather
shoes will remove their shoes for the services. As this is concluded,
the congregation says together the following verse from
Lamentations: "Turn Thou us unto Thee, 0 Lord, and we shall be
turned. /Renew our days as of old."
At the conclusion of the reading of Eichah, it is traditional to
recite a number of dirges, or kinot.
The following day on Tisha b'Av, tefillin and tallit are not to be
worn during Shacharit, the morning service.. Anenu ("Answer Us")
is recited. Anenu, an ancient prayer cited in the Talmud and read
on each fast day, calls on God to "answer us ... in all times of trou-
ble and distress." It also is read during the afternoon service.
The Torah reading on Tisha b'Av is Deuteronomy 4:25-40. The
subject is Moses' warning to the Children of Israel of their fate
should they forsake the Torah (though in the end, they are told,
God will have mercy and forgive them).
A number of congregations also have chosen to recite special
kinot to mark the millions of Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust.
Two of these may be found in The Complete Tisha b'Av Service
published by Artscroll.
At Minchah, the afternoon service, tallit and tefillin are worn.
This service also includes a Torah reading, with haftorah. By this
time of day, it is permitted to sit on ordinary chairs.
isha b'Av is a time to
mourn. We mourn many
tragic events that happened
on this day, but especially
the destruction of the Temple.
How is it possible to mourn for
something that occurred so many
years ago? And how do we feel the
loss of something we've never seen
and whose importance we may not
Today, the Temple may seem a dis-
tant, almost unfathomable structure,
but in its time it was literally the cen-
ter of Jewish life.
The most powerful gentile leaders
also came to understand its promi-
nence. Some were honorable; others
defiled the Temple and ordered its
immediate devastation when they
marched on Jerusalem.
"Woe to the peoples of the world,
who have lost something and do not
even know what they have lost," the
Talmud says of the Temple's destruc-
Traditionally, Judaism looks upon
the torment of the Jewish people as
stemming from a single cause: the sin-
fulness that led to the destruction of
the Temple in 70 C.E., with its subse-
quent loss of Jewish sovereignty and
scattering of the Jews throughout the
world. Had the Jews not forsaken the
Torah 2,000 years ago, the traditional
belief is that none of the suffering we
know so well would have followed.
The Jews would have remained in our
land; the Jewish people would have
remained intact, and the world would
be a different and better place.
The various biblical names for the
Beit HaMikdash — II Chronicles II
36:7 (also frequently used in the
House of the Lord — I Kings 3:1
Temple of the Lord — II Kings 24.13
Holy Temple — Jonah 2:5
House of God — Daniel 1:2
The Sanctuary — Ezekiel 45:4
Although the Temple was an
extraordinarily massive and well-built
structure, and although the people
were convinced it would last into eter-
nity, the prophets warned that the
Temple would be destroyed — if Jews
continued to violate the Torah.
Many of the works in the Book of
Psalms are attributed to the Levites,
who sang in the Temple, accompa-
nied by "lyres with harps, and with
cymbals," according to Chronicles I
When Herod rebuilt the second
Temple, he had 1,000 priests trained
as builders and masons so that they
would be able to work in the build-
ing's holiest of areas, where only
priests were permitted to enter.
While the Temple was, of course,
for the Jewish community, gentiles
were welcome there. Leviticus 22:25
and I Kings 8:41-43 discusses the fact
that sacrifices from gentiles were to be
accepted at the First Temple. In the
Second Temple period, sacrifices from
gentiles became so frequent that regu-
lations were created specifically to
monitor these practices. For example,
if a gentile sent a burnt offering from
overseas, but failed to include the nec-
essary libations, then the Jewish com-
munity was directed to pay for these
from public funds.
Before anyone was allowed to
enter the Temple, he was to purify
himself in the mikvah. On Yom
Kippur, the priests would immerse
themselves five times in a mikvah,
then wash their hands and feet an
additional 10 times.
The location of the Temple's altar,
in the center of the court and exactly
across from the sanctuary's entrance,