Tisha B'Av

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Tisha B'Av
Francesco Hayez 017.jpg
Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, by Francesco Hayez
Official name Hebrew: תשעה באב
English: Ninth of Av
Observed by Jews
TypeJewish religious and national
SignificanceMourning the destruction of the ancient Temples and Jerusalem, and other major calamities which have befallen the Jewish people.
Observances Fasting, mourning, prayer
Date9th day of Av (if Shabbat , then the 10th of Av)
2018 dateSunset, 21 July –
nightfall, 22 July
2019 dateSunset, 10 August –
nightfall, 11 August [1]
2020 dateSunset, 29 July –
nightfall, 30 July
2021 dateSunset, 17 July –
nightfall, 18 July
Related toThe fasts of Gedalia, the Tenth of Tevet and the Seventeenth of Tammuz, the Three Weeks & the Nine Days

Tisha B'Av (Hebrew : תִּשְׁעָה בְּאָב [lower-alpha 1] IPA:  [tiʃʕa bəˈʔav] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ), lit. "the ninth of Av") is an annual fast day in Judaism, on which a number of disasters in Jewish history occurred, primarily the destruction of both Solomon's Temple by the Neo-Babylonian Empire and the Second Temple by the Roman Empire in Jerusalem.

Hebrew language Semitic language native to Israel

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel; the modern version of which is spoken by over 9 million people worldwide. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name Hebrew in the Tanakh. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only living Canaanite language left, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.

Av month of the Hebrew calendar

Av is the eleventh month of the civil year and the fifth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. The name is Babylonian in origin and appeared in the Talmud around the 3rd century. This is the only month which is not named in the Bible. It is a summer month of 30 days. Av usually occurs in July–August on the Gregorian calendar.


A ta'anit is a fast in Judaism in which one abstains from all food and drink, including water. A Jewish fast may have one or more purposes, including:


Tisha B'Av is regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar and it is thus believed to be a day which is destined for tragedy. [2] [3] Tisha B'Av falls in July or August in the Gregorian calendar.

The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. The calendar spaces leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422-day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun. The rule for leap years is:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.

The observance of the day includes five prohibitions, most notable of which is a 25-hour fast. The Book of Lamentations, which mourns the destruction of Jerusalem is read in the synagogue, followed by the recitation of kinnot , liturgical dirges that lament the loss of the Temples and Jerusalem. As the day has become associated with remembrance of other major calamities which have befallen the Jewish people, some kinnot also recall events such as the murder of the Ten Martyrs by the Romans, massacres in numerous medieval Jewish communities during the Crusades, and the Holocaust.

Book of Lamentations book of the Bible

The Book of Lamentations is a collection of poetic laments for the destruction of Jerusalem. In the Hebrew Bible it appears in the Ketuvim ("Writings"), beside the Song of Songs, Book of Ruth, Ecclesiastes and the Book of Esther, although there is no set order; in the Christian Old Testament it follows the Book of Jeremiah, as the prophet Jeremiah is its traditional author. Jeremiah's authorship is no longer generally accepted, although it is generally accepted that the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon in 586 BC forms the background to the poems. The book is partly a traditional "city lament" mourning the desertion of the city by God, its destruction, and the ultimate return of the divinity, and partly a funeral dirge in which the bereaved bewails and addresses the dead. The tone is bleak: God does not speak, the degree of suffering is presented as undeserved, and expectations of future redemption are minimal.

Kinnot are dirges or elegies traditionally recited by Jews on Tisha B'Av to mourn the destruction of both the First and Second Temple in Jerusalem and other tragedies in Jewish history, including the Crusades, the Expulsion of Jews from Spain and the Holocaust. The kinnot are recited on the night of Tisha B'Av after reciting the Book of Lamentations, which was also called "Kinnot" in the Talmudic era before it assumed its more familiar name of "Eichah." The term is also used for a dirge or lament especially as sung by Jewish professional mourning women.

A dirge is a somber song or lament expressing mourning or grief, such as would be appropriate for performance at a funeral. The English word dirge is derived from the Latin Dirige, Domine, Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam, the first words of the first antiphon in the Matins of the Office for the Dead, created on basis of Psalms 5:8. The original meaning of dirge in English referred to this office.


Five calamities

Excavated stones from the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (Jerusalem, Israel), knocked onto the street below by Roman battering rams in 70 AD NinthAvStonesWesternWall.JPG
Excavated stones from the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (Jerusalem, Israel), knocked onto the street below by Roman battering rams in 70 AD

According to the Mishnah ( Taanit 4:6), five specific events occurred on the ninth of Av that warrant fasting:

Mishnah The first major written collection of the Oral Torah.

The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions known as the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic literature. The Mishnah was redacted by Judah the Prince at the beginning of the third century CE in a time when, according to the Talmud, the persecution of the Jews and the passage of time raised the possibility that the details of the oral traditions of the Pharisees from the Second Temple period would be forgotten. Most of the Mishnah is written in Mishnaic Hebrew, while some parts are Aramaic.

  1. The Twelve Spies sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission. Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, brought a positive report, while the others spoke disparagingly about the land. The majority report caused the Children of Israel to cry, panic and despair of ever entering the "Promised Land". For this, they were punished by God that their generation would not enter the land. [4] The midrash quotes God as saying about this event, "You cried before me pointlessly, I will fix for you [this day as a day of] crying for the generations" [5] , alluding to the future misfortunes which occurred on the same date.
  2. The First Temple built by King Solomon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BCE, and the population of the Kingdom of Judah was sent into the Babylonian exile. [6] The First Temple's destruction began on the 7th of Av (2 Kings 25:8) and continued until the 10th (Jeremiah 52:12). According to the Talmud [7] , the actual destruction of the Temple began on the Ninth of Av, and it continued to burn throughout the Tenth of Av.
  3. The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, [8] scattering the people of Judea and commencing the Jewish exile from the Holy Land that continues to this day. [6]
  4. The Romans subsequently crushed Bar Kokhba's revolt and destroyed the city of Betar, killing over 500,000 Jewish civilians (approximately 580,000) on August 4, 135 CE. [9]
  5. Following the Bar Kokhba revolt, Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, in 135 CE. [10]

Other calamities

Over time, Tisha B'Av has come to be a Jewish day of mourning, not only for these events, but also for later tragedies which occurred on or near the 9th of Av. References to some of these events appear in liturgy composed for Tisha B'Av (see below).

The Crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The most commonly known Crusades are the campaigns in the Eastern Mediterranean aimed at recovering the Holy Land from Muslim rule, but the term "Crusades" is also applied to other church-sanctioned campaigns. These were fought for a variety of reasons including the suppression of paganism and heresy, the resolution of conflict among rival Roman Catholic groups, or for political and territorial advantage. At the time of the early Crusades the word did not exist, only becoming the leading descriptive term around 1760.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Rhineland historic region of Germany

The Rhineland is the name used for a loosely defined area of Western Germany along the Rhine, chiefly its middle section.

While the Holocaust spanned a number of years, most religious communities use Tisha B'Av to mourn its 6,000,000 Jewish victims, in addition to or instead of the secular Holocaust Memorial Days. On Tisha B'Av, communities which otherwise do not modify the traditional prayer liturgy have added the recitation of special kinnot related to the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial Day or Holocaust Remembrance Day refers to various countries' designated annual day of commemoration honoring the victims, survivors and rescuers of the Holocaust during the Nazi regime

In connection with the fall of Jerusalem, three other fast-days were established at the same time as the Ninth Day of Av: these were the Tenth of Tevet, when the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians began; the Seventeenth of Tammuz, when the first breach was made in the wall by the Romans; and the Third of Tishrei, known as the Fast of Gedaliah, the day when Gedaliah was assassinated in the time of the Babylonians following the destruction of the First Temple. [16] The three weeks leading up to Tisha B'Av are known as The Three Weeks, while the nine days leading up to Tisha B'Av are known as The Nine Days.

Laws and customs

Tisha B'Av falls in July or August in the Gregorian calendar. When Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat (Saturday), it then is known as a nidche ("delayed") in Hebrew and the observance of Tisha B'Av then takes place on the following day that is Sunday, which was the case in 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2018. The next time is 2019. No outward signs of mourning intrude upon the normal Sabbath, although normal Sabbath eating and drinking end at sunset Saturday evening, rather than nightfall. [17]

The fast lasts about 25 hours, beginning at sunset on the preceding evening lasting until nightfall the next day. In addition to fasting, other pleasurable activities are also forbidden. [18]

Main prohibitions

Tisha B'Av bears a similar stringent nature to that of Yom Kippur. In addition to the length of the fast which lasts about 25 hours, beginning at sunset on the eve of Tisha B'Av and ends at nightfall the following day, Tisha B'Av also shares the following five prohibitions: [19] [20]

  1. No eating or drinking;
  2. No washing or bathing;
  3. No application of creams or oils;
  4. No wearing of (leather) shoes;
  5. No marital (sexual) relations.

These restrictions are waived in the case of health issues but a competent Posek, a rabbi who decides Jewish Law, must be consulted. For example, those who are seriously ill will be allowed to eat and drink. On other fast days almost any medical condition may justify breaking the fast; in practice, since many cases differ, consultation with a rabbi is often necessary. [18] Ritual washing up to the knuckles is permitted. Washing to cleanse dirt or mud from one's body is also permitted. [18]

Additional customs

Reading kinnot at the Western Wall PikiWiki Israel 3434 9 av kotel.JPG
Reading kinnot at the Western Wall

Torah study is forbidden on Tisha B'Av (as it is considered a spiritually enjoyable activity), except for the study of distressing texts such as the Book of Lamentations, the Book of Job, portions of Jeremiah and chapters of the Talmud that discuss the laws of mourning and those that discuss the destruction of the Temple. [21]

In synagogue, prior to the commencement of the evening services, the parochet (which normally covers and adorns the Torah Ark) is removed or drawn aside, lasting until after the fast.

According to the Rema it is customary to sit on low stools or on the floor, as is done during shiva , from the meal immediately before the fast (the seudah hamafseket) until midday (chatzot hayom) of the fast itself. It is customary to eat a hard boiled egg dipped in ashes, and a piece of bread dipped into ashes, during this pre-fast meal. The Beit Yosef rules that the custom to sit low to the ground extends past mid-day, until one prays Mincha (the afternoon prayer). [22]

If possible, work is avoided during this period. Electric lighting may be turned off or dimmed, and kinnot recited by candlelight. Some sleep on the floor or modify their normal sleeping routine, by sleeping without a pillow (or with one fewer pillow than usual), for instance. People refrain from greeting each other or sending gifts on this day. Old prayer-books and Torah scrolls are often buried on this day. [18]

The custom is to not put on tefillin for morning services (Shacharit) of Tisha b'Av, and not a talit, rather only wear the personal talit kattan without a blessing. At Mincha services tzitzit and tefilin are worn, with proper blessings prior to donning them. [23]

End of fast

Although the fast ends at nightfall, according to tradition the First Temple continued burning throughout the night and for most of the following day, the tenth of Av. [21] It is therefore customary to maintain all restrictions of the nine days through midday ( chatzos ) of the following day. [24]

When Tisha B'Av falls on a Saturday, and is therefore observed on Sunday, the 10th of Av, it is not necessary to wait until midday Monday to end restrictions of the nine days. However, one refrains from involvement in activity that would be considered "joyous", such as eating meat, drinking wine, listening to music, and saying the "shehecheyonu" blessing, until Monday morning. One can wash laundry and shave immediately after the end of a delayed tisha b'av.

When Tisha B'Av begins on Saturday night, the Havdalah ritual is postponed by 24 hours, as one could not drink the accompanying wine. One says Attah Chonantanu in the Saturday night Shemoneh Esrei prayer, and/or says Baruch Hamavdil, thus ending Shabbat. A blessing is made on the candle Saturday night. After Tisha B'Av ends on Sunday evening, the Havdalah ceremony is performed with wine (without candle or spices). [25]

The laws of Tisha B'Av are recorded in the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 552–557.


"Console, O Lord, the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and the city laid waste, despised and desolate. In mourning for she is childless, her dwellings laid waste, despised in the downfall of her glory and desolate through the loss of her inhabitants…. Legions have devoured her, worshippers of strange gods have possessed her. They have put the people of Israel to the sword… Therefore let Zion weep bitterly and Jerusalem give forth her voice… For You, O Lord, did consume her with fire and with fire will You in future restore her… Blessed are You, O Lord, Who consoles Zion and builds Jerusalem."

Abbreviated from the Nachem prayer.

The scroll of Eicha (Lamentations) is read in synagogue during the evening services. In addition, most of the morning is spent chanting or reading Kinnot, most bewailing the loss of the Temples and the subsequent persecutions, but many others referring to post-exile disasters. These later kinnot were composed by various poets (often prominent rabbis) who had either suffered in the events mentioned or relate received reports. Important kinnot were composed by Elazar ha-Kalir and Rabbi Judah ha-Levi. After the Holocaust, kinnot were composed by the German-born Rabbi Shimon Schwab (in 1959, at the request of Rabbi Joseph Breuer) and by Rabbi Solomon Halberstam, leader of the Bobov Hasidim (in 1984). Since Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza, some segments of the Religious Zionist community have begun to recite kinnot to commemorate the expulsion of Jewish settlers from Gush Katif and the northern West Bank on the day after Tisha B'Av, in 2005. [15]

In many Sephardic congregations the Book of Job is read on the morning of Tisha B'Av. [26] [27]

A paragraph that begins Nahem ("Console...") is added to the conclusion of the blessing Boneh Yerushalayim ("Who builds Jerusalem") recited during the Amidah (for Ashkenazim, only at the Mincha service). The prayer elaborates the mournful state of the Temple in Jerusalem. The concluding signature of the blessing is also extended to say "Blessed are You, O Lord, Who consoles Zion and builds Jerusalem." Various modern orthodox rabbis and Conservative rabbis have proposed amending Nachem as its wording no longer reflects the existence of a rebuilt Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, for example, issued a revised wording of the prayer and Rabbi Hayim David HaLevi proposed putting the prayer's verbs relating to the Temple's destruction into the past tense. However, such proposals have not been widely adopted. [28]

History of the observance

Lamenting in the synagogue, 1887 Tish'a B'av 1887.jpg
Lamenting in the synagogue, 1887

In the long period which is reflected in Talmudic literature the observance of the Ninth Day of Av assumed a character of constantly growing sadness and asceticism. By the end of the 2nd century or at the beginning of the 3rd, the observance of the day had lost much of its gloom. Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi was in favor of abolishing it altogether or, according to another version, of lessening its severity when the fast had been postponed from Saturday to Sunday (Talmud, Tractate Megillah 5b).

The growing strictness in the observance of mourning customs in connection with the Ninth Day of Av became pronounced in post-Talmudic times, and particularly in one of the darkest periods of Jewish history, from the 15th century to the 18th. [6]

Maimonides (12th century) says that the restrictions as to the eating of meat and the drinking of wine refer only to the last meal before fasting on the Eighth Day of Av, if taken after noon, but before noon anything may be eaten. [29] Rabbi Moses of Coucy (13th century) wrote that it is the universal custom to refrain from meat and wine during the whole day preceding the Ninth of Av. [30] Rabbi Joseph Caro (16th century) says some are accustomed to abstain from meat and wine from the beginning of the week in which the Ninth Day of Av falls; and still others abstain throughout the three weeks from the Seventeenth of Tammuz. [31]

A gradual extension of prohibitions can be traced in the abstention from marrying at this season and in other signs of mourning. So Rabbi Moses of Coucy says that some do not use the tefillin ("phylacteries") on the Ninth Day of Av, a custom which later was universally observed (it is now postponed until the afternoon). In this manner all customs originally designated as marks of unusual piety finally became the rule for all. [6]

In Israel

In Israel, restaurants and places of entertainment are closed on the eve of Tisha B'Av and the following day by law. [32] Establishments that break the law are subject to fines. Outside of Israel, the day is not observed by most secular Jews, as opposed to Yom Kippur, on which many secular Jews fast and go to synagogue. According to halakha, combat soldiers are absolved of fasting on Tisha B'Av on the basis that it can endanger their lives. The latest example of such a ruling was issued during Operation Protective Edge by Israel's Chief Rabbis: Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef. [33]

When Menachem Begin became Prime Minister, he wanted to unite all the memorial days and days of mourning on Tisha B'Av, so that Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day would also fall on this day but it was not accepted. [34]

Contemporary opinions

A 2010 poll in Israel revealed that some 22% of Israeli Jews fast on Tisha B'Av, and 52% said they forego recreational activity on this day even though they do not fast. Another 18% of Israeli Jews responded that were recreational spots permissible to be open they would go out on the eve of the fast day, and labeled the current legal status "religious coercion". The last 8% declined to answer. [35]

In relation to the creation of the State of Israel

As the main focus of the day recalls the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem and the subsequent Jewish diaspora, the modern day re-establishment of a Jewish state in the Holy Land has raised various attitudes within Judaism as to whether Tisha B'Av still has significance or not among secular Israelis, while no segment of Orthodox Jews accept this point of view that they regard as "anti-religious".[ citation needed ]

Following the Six-Day War, the national religious community viewed Israel's territorial conquests with almost messianic overtones. The conquest of geographical areas with immense religious significance, including Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount was seen as portentous; however only the full rebuilding of the Temple would engender enough reason to cease observing the day as one of mourning and transform it into a day of joy instead. [36]

Other traditions

Classical Jewish sources [37] maintain that the Jewish Messiah will be born on Tisha B'Av, though many explain this idea metaphorically, as the hope for the Jewish Messiah was born on Tisha B'Av with the destruction of the Temple. [38]

See also

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  1. Also written ט׳ באב, using Hebrew numerals.
  1. "Dates for Tisha B'Av". Hebcal.com by Danny Sadinoff and Michael J. Radwin (CC-BY-3.0). Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  2. Elozor Barclay; Yitzchok Jaeger (2003). Guidelines: Over Four Hundred of the Most Commonly Asked Questions about the Three Weeks. Targum Press. p. 65. ISBN   978-1-56871-254-3. Hashem condemned this day to become destined for national disasters throughout history...
  3. Pinchos Yehoshua Ellis (2005). Seasons in halacha. Targum Press. p. 267. ISBN   978-1-56871-369-4. Tisha B'Av initially became destined for tragedy...
  4. See Numbers 13; Numbers 14.
  5. Numbers Rabbah 16:20
  6. 1 2 3 4 "AB, NINTH DAY OF". Jewish Encyclopedia . Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  7. Ta'anit 29a
  8. Secular chronology gives the year as 70 CE. Some versions of rabbinic chronology give the year as 68 CE. See Missing years (Jewish calendar)#Two-year difference within the Hebrew calendar for elaboration.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Becher, Rabbi Mordechai (1995). "History of Events on Tisha B'Av". ohrnet. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
  10. 1 2 Barclay, Rabbi Elozor; Jaeger, Rabbi Yitzchok (2003). Guidelines: Over Four Hundred of the Most Commonly Asked Questions About the Three Weeks. Targum Press. ISBN   1-56871-254-5.. Note that July 31 is the Julian calendar date; corrected for the Gregorian calendar it would be August 10.
  11. Erbstösser, Martin (1978). The Crusades. UK: Brunel House. ISBN   9780876633311.
  12. Green, David B. (July 22, 2016). "This Day In Jewish History 1306: King Philip 'The Fair' Expels All France's Jews" via Haaretz.
  13. 1 2 "The three weeks, Tisha B'av (9th of Av) and the month of Av in general" (PDF).
  14. Kreiman, Claudia (September 15, 2013). "Grief and Consolation in the Month of Av (Isaiah 40:1-26)". Huffington Post.
  15. 1 2 "Tisha B'Av: Special Gush Katif Kinna". Machon Shilo. December 11, 2008.
  16. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6033-fasting-and-fast-days
  17. "When Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat or Sunday".
  18. 1 2 3 4 "The Laws of Tisha B'Av by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman - <a href='http://www.rabbiullman.com'>www.rabbiullman.com</a>".
  19. Rich, Tracey R. "Tisha B'Av". jewfaq.org.
  20. "קיצור שולחן ערוך קכד – ויקיטקסט". he.wikisource.org.
  21. 1 2 Donin, Hayim Halevy (1991). To Be a Jew. Basic Books. p. 264. ISBN   0-465-08632-2.
  22. https://www.yeshiva.co/midrash/shiur.asp?id=6869
  23. Joseph ben Ephraim Karo. "Shulchan Aruch/Orach Chaim/555" . Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  24. Shulchan Aruch w/Mishnah Brurah 558:1
  25. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 125:6
  26. https://www.yutorah.org/download.cfm?materialID=507764
  27. http://pathoftorah.com/tanakh/ketuvim/iyov-job/
  28. ""Nachem": to change or not to change? – Ask the Rabbi". OzTorah. August 2008.
  29. Mishneh Torah Hilchoth Ta'anith 5:8
  30. Sefer Mitzvoth ha-Gadol, Venice ed, Laws of Tishah B'Av, 249b
  31. Shulkhan Arukh, Orach Chayim 551
  32. "Tisha B'Av: Mourning Destruction but Hoping for Redemption". Arutz Sheva. August 8, 2011.
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  37. Jerusalem Talmud, Berachos 2:4;
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