The Tabernacle Times
August 2017 ......................... Av - Elul 5777 ......................... Volume 12 Issue 8

Tisha b’Av

Angela Kunkel
Angela Kunkel
  Tisha b’Av literally means “the ninth day of Av”. The 9th of Av (August 1, 2017) is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. It is a fast day that marks the anniversary of the destruction of the 1st Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon (Zechariah 7:5, 8:19), in 586 B.C.E. and the second Temple by the Romans under Titus in 70 A.D. Tisha b’Av eventually became a symbol for all the catastrophes that have fallen upon the Jewish people throughout history. the book of Job and the sections of Jeremiah and the Talmud that relate to the destruction, especially of Jerusalem.

In synagogues, the congregation sits on the floor, footstools, or low benches. They read by candlelight or dim light as a symbol of the darkness that has befallen Israel on that day. The curtain covering the ark (parochet) is removed and in some synagogues a black curtain is hung and the Torah Scrolls themselves are draped in black mantles. Some congregations even place the Torah Scroll on the floor and strew ashes over it, then recite the words from Lamentations, “The crown has fallen from our head” (5:16)

The Megillah of Lamentations is recited in haunting melody with the next-to-last verse
On the 9th of Av, according to the Mishna (Taan. 4:6):
  • The ten spies brought back to Moses their negative report about the land of Canaan. This condemned the Children of Israel to spend forty years wandering in the Wilderness instead of going into the Land HASHEM was giving them.
  • The Bar Kokhba revolt was finally crushed when Betar, the last stronghold, was captured by the Romans in 135 A.D. The walls of Betar fell and every Jew who had fled there was killed. This age of persecution lasted throughout the remainder of the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s reign, until 138 A.D.
  • In 136 A.D. Emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as a pagan city which he named Aelia Capitolina and the Jews were forbidden to live there. He even erected a pagan shrine on the site of the destroyed Temple.

According to tradition, Tisha b’ Av was the date of the expulsions of the Jews from England (1290) and Spain (1492). This date marked the beginning of World War 1 in 1914 which led to World War 2 and the Holocaust (Yom Hashoah).

Tisha b’Av is the culmination of a three week period of mourning beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz (which commemorates the 1st breach of Jerusalem, before the first Temple was destroyed) through the 9th of Av. This three week period is known in Hebrew as “bein hametzarim” ("between the straits" or "between the two fasts"). During these three weeks the mourning becomes increasingly intensified. On the Sabbaths during the three weeks special haftarot (selections from the prophets) are read from Jeremiah (1:1-2:3 and 2:4-3:4) and Isaiah (1:1-27). These contain warnings, from the prophets, to the people that their unfaithfulness to HASHEM will lead to the punishment of Israel at the hands of its enemy.

The importance of Tisha b’Av as a fast day was emphasized in the Talmud which says, “He who eats or drinks on the 9th of Av must be considered as guilty as one who has eaten on Yom Kippur” (Taan. 30b). The final meal before the fast often consists of a hard boiled egg and lentils (customary mourner’s food), and some will even put ashes in their food.

In addition to fasting on Tisha b’Av, those observing will refrain from wearing leather shoes, avoid wearing perfume or bathing, and abstain from marital relations. If the 9th of Av falls on the Sabbath, then the entire observance is moved to the next day because the Sabbath is to be a day of Joy. From sunset to sunset people are to observe all mourning rites that apply in the case of the death of a next of kin (Talmud Taan. 30a). It is also the only day when study of Torah (a source of Joy) is forbidden. However, one may study
            (Continued at top of next column)

  repeated so it ends on a hopeful note, “Turn us L~rd to you, and we shall come, renew our days as of old.” (Lamentations 5:21). After the chanting ofLamentations, woeful dirges are sung that recount the destruction of the Temple and the sins of the Jewish people. Tallit or tefillin are not worn and congregants do not exchange greetings entering or leaving the synagogue.

Roman Solders carry off the Temple Menorah, 70 AD

There is also a tradition that Messiah will be born on Tisha b’Av, reversing the centuries of travail and suffering that have been the lot of the Jewish people. Ultimate redemption will result from the depths of destruction and despair. This is expressed in Jewish households, for as the 9th of Av progresses, the custom of sweeping the house in the afternoon is done, in case Messiah should come. A change of clothes and some perfume is applied by Jewish women and at afternoon service the tallit and tefillin are now worn. The ark curtain and the Torah mantles are restored and the Torah is read again.

As believers in Yeshua we see Him as the true Temple of The Holy One, that dwelt among us. The Tabernacle in the Wilderness and the physical Temple were only temporary dwelling places. Yeshua told the Pharisees that He was greater than the Temple (Matthew 12:6). Yeshua is the Divine Presence of The Holy One (Colossians 2:9) and by His Spirit (the Ruach HaKodesh) residing in us, we are the Holy One’s Temple (1 Corinthians 3:16).

On this day, we pray with Israel, mourning, but not as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We who know Messiah, have a message of hope and life to share with those who have only sorrow and pain. Let us especially take this opportunity to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the Prince of Peace to be exhaled among the Jewish People. May He turn sorrow into Joy and wipe every tear by His Grace and Love.

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