Tisha B’Av: Jews mourn on Ninth of Av, saddest day of the year

Great wall of angular stones, Western Wall, with line of Jews in front, in prayer and conversation

Jews gather at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a remnant of the wall encircling the Second Temple. Tisha B’Av mourns the loss of the First and Second Temples. Photo courtesy of WIkimedia Commons

SUNSET MONDAY, AUGUST 4: Three weeks of reflection prepares men and women for this, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar: the Ninth of Av, known as Tisha B’Av.

Observant Jews who are healthy enough to undertake the 25-hour fast will follow five traditional prohibitions: No eating or drinking; no bathing; no use of creams or oils; no leather shoes; no marital relations. (Judaism 101 has more.)

The desolate tone of Tisha B’Av is in recollection of the many tragedies that befell the Jewish people on the Ninth of Av—including, most prominently, the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Many Jews can be found, today, sitting on low stools and reading the Book of Lamentations. The ark—the cabinet where the Torah is kept, in the synagogue—is draped in black. The final meal consumed before the start of the Tisha B’Av fast traditionally consists of a hard boiled egg and a piece of bread, dipped into ashes. (Learn more, and find additional resources, at Chabad.org.)

THE NINTH OF AV
THEN AND NOW

Author and columnist Debra Darvick writes about Tisha B’Av in this short section from her book This Jewish Life. Then, in a column a year ago, Debra also wrote about the contemporary challenge many Jewish men and women face in summoning a proper response to events that happened so many centuries in the past.

Interested in how to relate to Tisha B’Av in modern times, amid current events? Check out the articles from Jewish Journal and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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