Tisha B'Av, which literally means the ninth of Av, is a fast day and a day of mourning. It primarily commemorates the destruction of the first Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and of the second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.
This time of year has tended to be a bad one in Jewish history. For example, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 CE also took place on Tisha B'Av. But it's not just today that we commemorate. Three weeks ago we noted the 17th of Tammuz, the day that the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem back in 70 CE. So the past three weeks have been somber ones for us. (And the recent war taking place in Israel and Lebanon began on the 17th of Tammuz; I must admit I'm a little worried about what might happen today.)
As many of my friends have noted, observing a fast day during a heat wave is a difficult thing. Which is why Nomi and I have decided not to tax ourselves today. We're staying at home, doing our best to keep cool.
To my friends who are fasting, may you have an easy fast. To my non-Jewish friends, here's another window on our culture.
For more information:
Judaism 101: Tisha B'Av
Tisha B'Av: A Chronology of Destruction -- OU.ORG
Copyright © Michael Burstein