July 30, 2009, - 12:28 pm

The Ninth of Av: Fast Documents a Day 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).  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 food part isn’t the big deal, since I don’t eat much during the summer.  It’s the water part (and not being able to eat fruit) that’s tough.  I’m very thirsty and daydreaming about  some unsweetened iced tea, a Diet Coke, or just  some bottled water.


(Graphic from Not Quite Perfect blog in 2007)

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, My Jewish Learning, and Aish.

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12 Responses

It’s wonderful that you maintain your religious and cultural heritage while being an assimilated and active participant in American society. Much like most past, present, and future United States citizens of the Islamic faith. Hurray for the Melting Pot!

T: What a joke, Mohammed. Muslims in America are NOT assimilated. They expect America to bend for and to them. DS

Tim on July 30, 2009 at 1:12 pm

No disrespect intended, but is it not wise to forgo water for 25 hours?

Rick on July 30, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Always nice and interesting to read your posts regarding your faith.

CaliforniaScreaming on July 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Rick, Jews also fast on Yom Kippur for 25 hours. Tisha B’Av is a sad day since Jews have experienced so much tragedy in their history on this day. The holiday is about remembrance and reflection for the future. If Jews stopped doing stupid things, Tisha B’Av would one day be a by-word. The lesson is the world is a still a dangerous place and no amount of wishful thinking will erase the fact there is a long and hard road ahead of the Jewish people. With faith in G-d and wiser choices, disasters can be averted in the future.

NormanF on July 30, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Rick, 25 hour fasting is not a big deal for 95% of the people. And for those that cannot, there are numerous methods of leniency, even for eating and drinking on Yom Kippur. Jewish children ages 11-12 and up have been doing it for 1000s of years. I personally do not know of a single case of anyone getting seriously ill from fasting normally.

Even my octogenarian parents just completed their fast, here in Jerusalem. Of course, not all can.

Obviously, if you don’t eat and drink well before the fast and if you are very active during a fast, especially in hot weather, you’re begging for a fainting spell. The same is true if you’re going against a doctor’s order not to fast – a definite no-no.

Shy Guy on July 30, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Thanks for sharing this info with us on the 9th of Av.

May the third Temple be built soon, in our lifetime! May the Messiah ben David come to rule and rein there.

BB on July 30, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Thanks for the link to my graphic. Hope your fast went well 🙂

Dzeni on July 31, 2009 at 12:13 am

Lamentations 4.

Sorrow01 on July 31, 2009 at 2:54 am

“Lamentations 4.”
What about Lamentations 1, 2, 3 and 5?

Shy Guy on July 31, 2009 at 6:53 am

    You are free to read all of them, but Lamentations 4 really does show the culmination of despair.

    Sorrow01 on July 31, 2009 at 8:13 pm

I’ve posted this before, but do you know when Barack HUSSEIN Obama was introduced to America? It was during the “eloquent” (stifling laughter) Keynote Address he gave on the opening night of the Democrat Convention, on July 27, 2004 which was Tisha B’Av, 5764.

Oh, well, here we go again?

HasItBeen4YearsYet? on July 31, 2009 at 7:27 pm

To: normanf

“If Jews stopped doing stupid things, Tisha B’Av would one day be a by-word.”

Unless you meant a turning their backs on Hashem – the Elohim of their Fathers which was foolish and bought about some of the sadness of the day. The rest of the sorrows were at the hands of the Goyim – Gentiles who have committed atrocities
from their mislead pagan evils.

A very poor choice of words,normanf. They reveal a severe lack of historical knowledge and a future doomed to repeat offenses.


R'N' L'V' on October 13, 2009 at 3:48 pm

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