Tisha B'Av is the Fast of the Ninth of Av (Jewish calendar) and begins at sundown, July 31st. It is a time for mourning, the saddest day in Jewish history, which primarily commemorates the destruction of the First (586 BC) and Second (70 CE) Temples in Jerusalem. It boggles the mind to think that both Temples were destroyed on the very same day of the Hebrew calendar.
In synagogues around the world and at the Western Wall which is Judaism's holiest site, religious Jews gather to mourn the destruction of the Temples and to read from the words of the Prophet Jeremiah and portions of the book of Lamentations. They do not read other parts of the Bible on this day because the other readings bring joy and this is to be a day of sadness.
Although this observance is primarily meant to commemorate the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem, it is appropriate to consider on this day the many other tragedies of the Jewish people throughout the years on this date:
- 132 CE, Romans crushed Bar Kokhba’s revolt and destroyed the city of Betar, killing over 100,000 Jews
- 133 CE, following the Roman siege of Jerusalem, the Temple site and surrounding areas were plowed.
- 1095, the First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II, killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and annihilating Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland
- 1290 King Edward I issued an edict expelling all Jews from England
- 1492 an edict of expulsion of the Jews in Spain was carried out
- 1914 World War I broke out, setting the stage for the later devastation of WorldWar II and the Holocaust
- 1942 on the eve of Tisha B’Av, a mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Hitler’s Treblinka death camp began
- 1994, the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires killed 86 and wounded 300 others
- 2005, more than 8,500 Jewish residents were expelled from Gaza as part of Israel’s ill-fated Disengagement Plan, a desperate bid for peace designed to further relations with Palestinian Arabs. This expulsion was a Land for Peace deal with the Palestinians that obviously did not bring about peace.
“There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
Should Believers participate in this day of mourning? Why wouldn’t we? We may consider recognizing this date each year as it reminds us how much the Jewish people have suffered, especially those who followed leaders who led them astray. As fellow citizens in the commonwealth of Israel, we might respond to this day of grief by praying for the Jewish People.
Jesus gave us His example as He wept with compassion when He foresaw the destruction of the Holy Temple and the disaster that would come upon Israel (Matthew 23:37-38). The Jewish people long for and pray daily for the restoration of the Holy Temple. Plans and preparations are already being made in Jerusalem for the Third Temple.
God is seeking intercessors to stand in the gap for Israel. Will you pray for the Jews as they mourn the history they remember this day? Will you pray for Israel?