July 20, 2010, - 11:14 am

The Ninth of Av: Fast Day Marks Anniversary of Tragedies

By Debbie Schlussel

Today is the Jewish fast day of “Tisha B’Av,” which means the Ninth of Av (a month on the Jewish calendar).

It marks the destruction of the Jewish Temple–both of them and many other tragedies in Jewish history, which all occurred on this day in the Jewish calendar. Tisha B’Av 1914 (August 1, 1914) was the day World War I broke out, setting the stage for World War II and the Holocaust. On the eve of Tisha B’Av 1942, the Nazis’ mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto began. Most were sent to their deaths at the Treblinka Nazi death camp. Just after Tishah B’Av 1994 concluded, Hezbollah and Iran bombed the Jewish community center of Buenos Aires (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina), Argentina, killing 86 and wounding at least 300 others.


(Graphic from Not Quite Perfect blog in 2007)

I’ve been fasting since sundown last night, and the fast ends tonight at nightfall. It ends up being just under 25 hours of no food or liquid. The no food part isn’t the big deal, since I’m not from the big eaters, especially during the summer. It’s the no liquid part (and not being able to eat fruit) that’s tough. On fast days–especially this one, in the midst of the hot summer–I ultimately get very thirsty and wish I could drink just some water or unsweetened tea. A 7-Eleven Slurpee would definitely hit the spot, right now.

To all of my Jewish friends and readers who are observing the fast, have an easy one. To my Gentile friends and readers, here’s some more on the holiday from a previous post of mine about the fast day:

On this day, both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. Five major tragedies happened to the Jewish people on this day, so we take the day to remember and mourn those and all the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. On Tisha B’Av in 1492, the Jews were officially expelled from Spain, for example.  It actually is the end of three weeks of mourning and deprivation begun by another fast day. . . .

Jewish fasts mean absolutely no eating, drinking, bathing (no showers), shaving, haircuts, laundry, washing, swimming, make-up wearing, sex, wearing of leather shoes, music, or entertainment. . . . (We usually eat a bigger meal before the fast, which makes it harder because it expands your stomach, though that’s generally required for the Yom Kippur fast and not this one.) Also hard, since I’m a lip balm fanatic to remember not to constantly apply it, since I have tubes of the stuff in every room. It’s the breaking of habits and remembering to reflect that is part of the purpose of the day.

In 1942, many American Catholic priests and Christian ministers participated in the holiday, fasting along with their Jewish-American friends. It was reported in TIME Magazine. And I wrote about it here.

More on Tisha B’Av at Judaism 101 and My Jewish Learning.

So,today, keep in mind that while I write posts for the site, I’m in the midst of a fast. In fact, the fast means a lot to me, as we endure Barack Obama, the impending threat of a nuclear Iran, and repeated, escalating attacks on Jews by Muslim all over the world. It is also meaningful with the escalating attacks on and within Israel by Islamic terrorists and the increasing world pressure for Israel to further amputate parts of itself and give up trying to secure its shores by engaging and stopping HAMAS flotillas, etc.

Hopefully, G-d is listening.

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13 Responses

Dieting is bad enough. Not drinking water? wow

samurai on July 20, 2010 at 11:26 am

    We’ve been doing it every Yom Kippur for around 3500 years and around 2500 years on every 9th of Av.

    My eleven year old boy is finishing up his 24+hour fast here in Jerusalem. 25 minutes to go.

    Shy Guy on July 20, 2010 at 12:49 pm

“Hopefully, G-d is listening.”

Yes, to Muslims. He’s on their side.

Objector on July 20, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    How great are Thy works, O LORD! Thy thoughts are very deep.
    A brutish man knoweth not, neither doth a fool understand this.
    When the wicked spring up as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they may be destroyed for ever.
    But Thou, O LORD, art on high for evermore.
    For, lo, Thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, Thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

    Psalm 92:6-10

    Shy Guy on July 20, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Debbie and Shy Guy, Tisha B’Av will be with us as long as the Temple is not rebuilt. And as long as the Jews refuse to do it, tragedies will continue to befall them. The restoration of Israel today is only a physical restoration but Israel will never realize its true place among the nations until its spiritual restoration is accomplished. With the renewed Temple, then the word of G-d as the prophets have envisioned will come from Zion and all the nations will then go to Jerusalem to learn from the House Of Hashem.

Tisha B’Av will be truly over once the Temple is standing again in Jerusalem and not merely the ruin of desolation that is left of it. May it be soon so that the House Of Israel will see the last of the Ninth Of Av among them!

NormanF on July 20, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Would inserting an IV be cheating?

Maliki on July 20, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    No, although if done on Yom Kippur, it should be inserted before the start of the fast.

    But I have yet to hear of anyone so desperate. There are pills and suppositories available which make the fasting more manageable, especially for those who are lousy fasters.

    And if a relaible physician says you cannot fast, then you are NOT ALLOWED to.

    Shy Guy on July 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Indeed. On the early days of Av our community was reminded of the tragedies that befalls the Jews. In light of recent tragedies in our community will be gathering today for a tehillim diver chizuk.

Please join us for our tefillot to be heard in the Heavenly abode and for Moshe Menora, z”l (neighbor) and his grandchildren, Rivka Menora z”l, Rachel Menora z”l and Sarah Klein z”l. Could you please dedicate it to the refuah shleima of Netanel Yosef ben Simcha Sima (Yossi Menora).

Lex on July 20, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Is the mother’s name Sima Simcha or Simcha Sima? I thought the former.

    Shy Guy on July 21, 2010 at 12:17 am

      It is Simcha Sima. Thank you!

      Lex on July 21, 2010 at 1:21 pm

        Read here, one paragraph before the last.

        Shy Guy on July 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm


T. Y. on July 20, 2010 at 9:39 pm

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