is simply the Hebrew way to say "the 9th of Av." It is a day
that is so horrible to Jewish people that we only remember it as a date,
without giving it any special name. That day begins at sunset tonight
night, and will be observed until sundown tomorrow. It is one of the two
most solemn days to Jewish people everywhere. Yom Kippur, the other
major fast day, is known as the "White Fast" because it reminds us of
atonement. But this day, Tisha B'Av is known as the "Black Fast" because
on it, we remember the destruction of the Temple; not once, but twice!
It is the day that the spies returned from their 40 day trek into the Promised
Land. But, when only two came back still believing the promise, Israel
wept. On the day when all Israel should have been celebrating, they
wept! And so, G-d decreed that on this day, throughout history, Jewish
people would have something to weep for.
intent of such practices are in preparation for coming to grips with Israel's
sin which led to the loss of the Holy Places. When the spies returned
from the land, there was weeping when there should have been rejoicing.
So, throughout history, G-d has given Israel reason to mourn on this day, the
ninth day of the month of Av.
Here is a look at the events of this one day in the history of Israel:
Spies return from
40 days in Israel with evil reports of the }
Land of Israel. Jewish people
despair, give up hope of entering the Land of Israel.
First Temple by the Babylonians, under
Nebuchadnezar. About 100,000 Jews
during invasion. Exile of remaining tribes in southern
Babylon and Persia.
Second Temple by Romans, under
Titus. Over 2,500,000 Jews die as a result
famine and disease. Over 1,000,000 Jews exiled
to all parts of the
Jews sold as slaves by Romans.
Jews killed and
tortured in gladiatorial "games" and pagan celebrations.
Bar Kochba revolt
crushed. Betar destroyed -
over 100,00 killed.
ploughs site of Temple. Romans
city of Aelia Capitolina on
site of Jerusalem.
declared by Pope Urban II. 10,000
Jews killed in first month of Crusade.
bring death and destruction to thousands of
obliterate many communities in
Rhineland and France.
Expulsion of Jews
from England, accompanied by
pogroms and confiscation of books and
Spain and Portugal culminates in
the expulsion of the Jews from the
Families separated, many die by drowning, massive
Britain and Russia
declare war on Germany.
First World War
begins. First World War
Second World War and Holocaust.
75% of all
Jews in war zones.
armies of all sides - 120,000
in armies. Over 400 pogroms
Poland and Russia.
to the Treblinka
concentration camp begin.
Iraq walks out of
talks with Kuwait.
The deadly bombing
the building of the AMIA
(the Jewish community center in
which killed 86 people and wounded some 300 others.
Here are a couple
of stories that will give you a special insight into this special day:
The Sin of the Spies
by Rabbi Shraga
Aish HaTorah Jerusalem
The Torah (Numbers 13-14) describes the
famous story of the 12 spies - one from each tribe - who are sent into
Israel to explore the land. Their mission seems rather innocuous at first:
Determine how to battle the Canaanites and then settle three million men, women
and children in the new land. The spies are sent (ostensibly) to survey
practical matters like fortification of the cities, geography of the land,
opportunities for farming and commerce, the best access routes, etc.
In Israel, G-d shows them encouraging
signs that the land is indeed plentiful and rich: They find a cluster of
grapes so enormous that eight men are needed to carry it (Numbers 13:23). G-d
also makes sure the spies encounter heavily fortified Canaanite cities - which
in fact is a sign of Canaanite weakness, since anyone who is truly
powerful does not have to hide behind big walls. (See Rashi on 13:19.)
Additionally, G-d planned the death of a
Canaanite nobleman to coincide with the spies' visit, in order to busy the
locals with funeral arrangements and mourning - as a way to divert their
attention from the reconnaissance mission! Everything was perfectly
orchestrated; nothing could possibly go wrong.
Yet somehow, things do go wrong. After 40
days, the spies come back and recommend against entering the land. They
report: "We can't succeed because everything is huge!" - a
reference to the gigantic fruits. "We can't succeed because the land
devours its inhabitants!" - a reference to the funeral. "And we can't
succeed because it's too strong!" - a reference to the heavily fortified
walls. (See Numbers 13:31-33.)
The Israelite community accepts the
report, and gives up their dream of going into Israel. The consequence? If you
don't want to enter the land, says G-d, then you won't enter the land. All
Israelites will die out over the next 40 years in the desert, and only
their children will enter the land.
Numbers 14:1 tells us the people's
reaction to this news: "The people wept that night." That night was Tisha
B'Av, the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av. G-d declared: "They cried
for no reason; in the future I'll give them good reason to cry."
Hundreds of years later, the
destruction of the First Temple was to occur on Tisha B'Av. And 500 years
after that, the Second Temple was destroyed on Tisha B'Av as well.
The spies lost their anchor. They got so
wrapped up in the pragmatics of conquering the land, that they took G-d
out of the equation - and never put Him back in! The original question
they'd been assigned to answer - "How to conquer the land" - suddenly
became a question of "should we or shouldn't we."
What caused this twist to occur?
G-d's presence was palpable in the
desert: a rock provided a steady supply of water, Clouds of Glory kept enemies
at bay, and a daily supply of manna fell from heaven. Yet these "open
miracles" were to cease upon entry into Israel. Thus, the spies
reasoned, G-d's guidance and protection would cease as well.
From this skewed perspective, all the
positive signs that G-d had shown them - the fruits, the funeral and the city
walls - were turned into negatives. From a purely pragmatic perspective, their
conclusion was - not surprisingly - "This is not possible!"
Moses, being the great leader that he was,
knew that the spies were susceptible to losing their anchor. So before they
departed on their mission, he changed the name of one of the spies from "Hoshea"
to "Yehoshua" (Joshua). The name "Yehoshua" means "G-d
will save." It also begins with the letters of G-d's Name - Yud and Heh.
This was Moses' attempt to keep the spies focused on that crucial
To some extent, Moses was successful;
Joshua was one of two spies who protested the negative report - and was rewarded
with entry into the land.
This dynamic can appear in our own lives
Each of us has a "life
vision." The Torah teaches that when one's "vision" is driven
by a connection with G-d, then the ability to achieve transcends all
boundaries. Since G-d can do anything, all success depends only on His will.
Without that connection, one's ability to
achieve is defined by mortal limitations. It is logical, therefore, to
assume that many goals are not possible. Hence the origin of the popular
expression, "I can't do it; it's not possible."
Be it needn't be that way. Living in
accordance with the will of G-d gives one the confidence to know that the more
you are connected, the greater will be your degree of transcendence. And then,
anything is possible.
Our nation has seen that G-d can do
anything. When the Israeli armed forces defeated Arab armies in a scant
six days, we knew quite clearly that we'd exceeded our mortal limitations.
The incident of the spies took place on Tisha
B'Av. Unfortunately, it is a recurring theme in Jewish history: We
lose sight of our connection to G-d, forfeit that anchor, and descend into a
mode of finger-pointing, arguments, excuses, and ultimately, national suicide.
Time will tell whether we find our
anchor, get on track, and succeed in building a national Jewish consciousness
that can stand up against the forces which lure us away from our vision and
With the help of G-d, we will succeed.
Back to my
Zechariah 8:19 promises: "Thus
says the L-rd of hosts, `The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast
of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and
cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.'
The fast of the fourth month is Tamuz 17,
the beginning of the Three Weeks.
The fast of the fifth month is Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning the destruction
of the Temple…twice.
The fast of the seventh month is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
The fast of the tenth month is the remembrance of the day that Nebuchadnetzar,
King of Babylon established a siege of Jerusalem, leading to the destruction of
Oh, that day is coming. L-rd, may it
be soon. But in the meantime, let's
consider these days, in "modern" 2003 and look at what
faces us on this Tisha B'Av. The world has taken such a
powerful stand against terrorism, yet ignores the acts of terror with which we
in Israel are faced daily. There is now a "cease-fire" agreement made
among the terrorist groups, but not with Israel. Although they have
decided to rest for awhile, the world sees it as "peace making" when in
reality, a "hudna" as this time is known in Arabic, is only a time for
arming and preparing for a greater attack at its end or before. The
so-called "Road map to Peace" is endorsed by the world but only Israel is
taking any steps toward its implementation. The Road Map does not
instruct the PA to deal with the terrorists or to make any deal with them; it
clearly states that the PA must destroy the terrorist infrastructure, seize
their weapons, and reduce incitement. Not one step in this direction has
been made. Rather, Summer camps all over the Palestinian territory and
even among Arab Israeli villages, teach their children that their highest call
is to become a martyr as they kill Jews and establish a Palestinian nation
that is all of Israel! As we remember the destruction of
the Temple and mourn the sad state of affairs of the Temple Mount, Carol and I
will join with thousands of Jews from all over Israel to march around the
walls of the Old City on this night of remembrance. We will pause
between the Mount of Olives and Mount Moriah and declare once again, "Har
HaBayit shelanu!" "The Temple Mount is ours!" But no matter
how loudly we make this statement and no matter how strong our faith, the
reality is that this most holy place is not ours, but is under occupation by
those who deny there was ever a Temple at all.
The prophet Zechariah wrote 2500 years
ago that the day would come when G-d will make "Jerusalem a burdensome
stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in
pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against
it." Zechariah 12:3. Today, more than any other day of the
year, please pray for the peace of Jerusalem. As we see the nations
take their stand against this Holy City,
Today, Wednesday, August 6th is Tisha B'Av
this year. Please be
in prayer for the nation and the people of Israel, especially this week.
This week will tell much about the future of the city of Jerusalem and about
the future of this nation.