On Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av,
Jews fast and mourn the destruction of the First and Second
Temples, and other tragedies of Jewish history associated
with this date. The Jewish expulsion from Spain occurred
on this date in 1492, as did the deportation of Jews from
the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp
and the 1994 Hizbollah terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish
Community Center in Argentina where 86 people died. Also,
Jews were expelled from England on this date in 1290,
the First Crusade started on this date in 1095, resulting
in the death of thousands of Jews, and the Bar Kochba
rebellion was crushed on this date in the year 132. Yet,
the worst thing to happen on Tisha B'Av was the destruction
of the two Holy Temples.
King Solomon built the First Temple in Jerusalem (currently,
the Muslim Dome of the Rock sits above the spot). In 586
BCE, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed the
First Temple. Over 100,000 Jews were killed and the rest
were exiled to remote locations in Babylon and Persia.
In 70 CE, Titus and the Romans destroyed the Second Temple
(pictured in a model on far left) that Herod built. Over
two and a half million Jews died from execution, battles,
famine and disease. Another million Jews were exiled to
part of the Roman empire. After the fall of the Second
Temple, most Jews remained in the Diaspora until the beginning
of the modern Zionist movement. All that is left of the
Holy Temple is one side of the exterior wall that surrounded
the Temple. This wall is Judaism's holiest site and is
known as the Western, or Wailing, Wall (seen in the lower
right side of the picture to the left, with the Dome of
the Rock in the background).
Jews anticipate Tisha B'Av three weeks before it arrives.
This year, Tisha B'Av will be ovserved beginning at sundown on August 8, 2011. On Shiva Asar B' Tammuz, a minor fast day, the walls around
Jerusalem were breached by enemy invaders, whose assault
culminated three weeks later on Tisha B'Av, when the Temple
was destroyed. The three weeks are a mourning period and
many people refrain from wedding celebrations or from
listening to music. The last nine days of the mourning
are intensified, with prohibitions against swimming, eating
meat, and drinking wine on any day except for Shabbat.
Since Tisha B'Av is a major fast day, it is similar to
Yom Kippur in observance. Jews will fast on the day and
refrain from bathing, working, having sex, wearing cosmetics,
shaving and wearing leather shoes. The book of Lamentations
is read on the night of Tisha B'Av, describing Jerusalem's
destruction. Also, books that mark sad events, like the
book of Job, are studied on the day of Tisha B'Av.