Tisha B’Av 2017
What is the meaning of “Tisha B’Av” and when is it this year?
Tisha B’Av literally means “The Ninth Day of Av” (a Hebrew month). It is the date of the greatest tragedies in Jewish history, and is commemorated with signs of national mourning – in particular fasting, reading the Book of Lamentations and reflecting on our ways and how to improve.
This year (2017) Tisha B’Av begins on Monday night July 31st and ends on Tuesday, August 1st at nightfall. Some of the events that occurred on this date are: destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, crushing of Bar Kochba’s rebellion against the Roman conquest, declaration of the First Crusade by Pope Urban II, expulsion of Jewry from England by King Edward I, expulsion of Spanish Jewry during the Spanish Inquisition, beginning of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp, Iraq walking out of talks with Kuwait leading to the Gulf War, the deadly bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. And that is just a partial list.
Allow me to share the following story to help understand the significance of this day for us:
The French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte looked in on a Synagogue in Paris on the Ninth of Av and saw Jews sitting on the floor chanting lamentations and shedding tears. “Why are they crying like that?” he asked. “They are in mourning for the loss of their Holy Temple in Jerusalem”, his aides explained. “But I have not heard of any such event recently from my reliable intelligence sources”, he proclaimed. “Master Napoleon”, they said, “this event took place close to 1,800 years ago.” “1,800 years ago and they still weep their hearts out? I vow that a people who can still mourn for their Temple and their homeland after so many years will certainly regain them.”
Our Sages teach that the day of Tisha B”Av, which is now a day of national mourning, will in the future become a festive national holiday and there will be no more war, suffering and mourning. May this be very soon! Amen.