Tisha B’ Av – August 6, 2022 – What is it? – A Day of Mourning and Remembrance

Written by Michael

July 12, 2022

-Lamentations 1:1-2 “Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.” Mentioned in Zachariah 7:3 – as one of the fast days (the 9th of Av) Tisha B’Av (the ninth of Av) begins at sundown (Saturday August 6th, 2022).

Ten significant things happened on this date:

(1) The day the 10 spies slandered the promised land of Israel – extending the wandering by 40 years.

The Exodus generation was told they would die in the desert.

(2) The first Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians (586 B.C.E.).

(3) The second Temple was destroyed by the Romans (70 C.E.).

(4) Bar Kochba’s fortress was destroyed by the Romans, ending the second Jewish revolt (136 C.E.).

(5) The city of Jerusalem was plowed under.

(6) The expulsion of the Jews in 1290 from England, 1492 from Spain.

(7) WW1 began on this date in 1914.

(8) the 10 Martyrs – the 10 leading Rabbis executed by Rome.

(9) The Pogroms of the First Crusade 1096-1099.

(10) The beginning of the 1942 deportation of Warsaw Ghetto Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp.

A Disturbing Day, a Mournful Day
Walking into synagogue on the eve of Tisha B’Av, you find the chairs either removed or turned upside down. People sit on low stools or on the floor, as did Job in his distress. Curtains and coverings are removed, making the synagogue look bare.

The last meal before sundown is traditionally lentils and eggs. Their round shape is said to speak of mourning, since life is a circle of mourning. How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she that was great among the nations! . . . She weeps bitterly in the night, tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies.

The texts for reading are sad ones: Lamentations, Jeremiah (but not the consolation passages), Job, Deuteronomy 4:25-40, Jeremiah 8:13 – 9:23 – as well as traditional poetry. Lamentations is read in whole at the evening service at the synagogue. The cantor gets louder through the first three chapters, silent on the fourth, and then loud again on the next to last verse:

Restore us to thyself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old!
-Lamentations 5:21

Tisha B’Av as a Practice
It is said that it is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. -Ecclesiastes 7:2

As long as we live in the age of death and futility, we ought to set times to meditate and reflect on these things. Our prayer and worship is heavily populated with verses of hope and consolation. May Messiah come speedily. Rebuild the Temple. May our own eyes see your return to Zion. Such hope is vital and rightly emphasized. But in this age we will deal with death and we ought to deal with it purposefully and thoughtfully.

Napoleon was walking one night in the streets of Paris, hearing Lamentations emanating from a synagogue.  When told that the wailing commemorated the 586 BCE destruction of the First Jewish Temple in Jerusalem he stated: “People who solemnize ancient history are destined for a glorious future!” 

Yeshua’s prediction of the temple’s destruction came to pass on the ninth day of the Hebrew month Av, forty years after his resurrection. On the same date centuries before, Solomon’s temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians. In both events, Tisha B’Av was a day of sorrow, defeat, and exile of the Jewish people that has ramifications even to this day. There was, however, one difference between the two events, which led to a discussion in the Talmud (Yoma 9b): “Why was the first temple destroyed? Because during its time there were three sins: idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed…. But in the time of the second temple, they studied Torah, performed the commandments, and did kind deeds. Why then was it destroyed? Because there was hatred without a cause—sinat chinam­­—among them.”

Are we in a similar time? – Hatred for righteousness – anti-Semitism its highest rate in the world in 2022? – without a cause, or one derived in the realm of insanity?

The numerical value of the Hebrew letters of Eikhah (איכה) is 36, which is equal to the traditional number of righteous Jewish persons. The Hebrew meaning of Eikhah (איכה) could be interpreted as a reproaching “How Come?!”, as well as, “Where are you?” or “Why have you strayed away?”  The term איכה features in the first chapter of Deuteronomy and the first chapter of Isaiah, which are studied annually in conjunction with the book of Lamentations on the 9th day of Av. Thus the 9th day of Av binds together the values of Moses, Jeremiah and Isaiah.  

What was this hatred without a cause? In the years leading up to the war against Rome, some Jews were preparing for armed uprising, and others opposed it. Some were in collusion with Rome, and others, called Sicarii, used concealed daggers to assassinate Jews they suspected of collusion with Rome. The Jewish people were divided by Sinat chinam, or hatred without a cause.

The phrase itself comes from the Old Testament, as in Psalm 69:5, “Those who hate me without cause—sino’eh (Sinat plural) chinam—are more than the hairs of my head.” This is a psalm of David, reflecting his experiences, but also prophesying Israel’s exile and restoration, as the ending indicates: “For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; and his servants shall live there and possess it; the children of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall live in it” (69:36–37).

The great 19th century Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch comments: “David beholds the people of Israel, generation after generation, wandering through the dark centuries of exile, and, in this psalm, he utters the thoughts that rise up in Israel’s soul as it marches through the history of nations.” But David says, not “they hate them without cause,” but “they hate me without cause.” As king, he embodies the future of his people and identifies so strongly with them that his sufferings are prophetic of sufferings to come upon all Israel.

The centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish history is commemorated on the 9th day of Av.  It is highlighted by Psalm 137:5 – “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”

Remember – God orchestrates sovereignly on His calendar – Remember the Jewish people this day – pray in this season as we see but yet have not known the persecution our brothers and sisters have across the globe.  Nigeria is in a heated time of true persecution – so is Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and others.  We need to pray for believers worldwide during this season.

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