The Fast of Tish'a B'Av

 

     It so happened that both the First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed in the month of Av.  The First Temple, which was built by King Solomon, was destroyed "in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month" (Jeremiah 52:12) in the year 3175 (586 BCE) by the Babylonians under their king Nebuchadrezzar.  The Second Temple was destroyed on the ninth day of the month in the year 3830 (70 CE) by the Romans, commanded by Titus, the son of the emperor Vespasian.  Both events were followed by exile and devastating loss of lives.  The fast of Tish'a B'Av (simply, 'Ninth of Av') commemorates those terrible Jewish catastrophes.

 

     According to the Bible (Jeremiah 5:11-15, 6:22-23;  Chronicles II 36:11-19) the First Temple was destroyed because of idol worship.  The Talmud sages explain that the Second Temple, however, was destroyed because of causeless hatred ('Sinat Hinam' in Hebrew) and internal fighting among Jews.  It is intriguing that the punishment for sins against G-d was not as lasting as the punishment for sins against fellow humans; only seventy years after the destruction of the First Temple the Second Temple was re-built by Jews who had already returned from exile.

 

The fast of Tish'a B'Av is an opportunity for reflection and self-examination of the divisions among Jews.  Let us build on our common heritage, highlight all that we share and thrive to bring our hearts together.  Let us embrace what unites us, appreciate the various rituals of Jewish life and develop a dialogue of understanding with our brothers and sisters, based on our shared faith.

                                                                                                                                      Judah Ari-Gur

 

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