Fast of the Ninth of Av

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Dates of the Jewish holidays and mourning day is unique for each year. In 2019, the Ninth of Av falls to August 11. According to Torah, Av is the 5th month of Jewish calendar. The Ninth of Av is considered the most mourning day for Jews. On this day, Jews do not eat anything, do not drink, do not wear leather shoes. Fasting begins from the evening of 8 Av a few minutes before sunset and ends after the appearance of stars in the sky in the evening of Ninth of Av.

Day of Ninth of Av is also the only day of the year when a Jew is not only not obliged, but has no right to study the Torah (after all, the study is considered a source of joy).

Initially, the fast of the Ninth of Av is associated with the “sin of the scouts” – when Moses led the Jews to the borders of the Promised Land, they were afraid to immediately enter it and begged Moses to send the scouts so that they would return to describe the country and the prospects for life in it. And although this request was an expression of doubt in God, who brought the Jews out of Egypt and promised them this country, nevertheless Moses agreed to send the heads of 12 tribes for reconnaissance. The returning scouts reported that the country was “fortified to the sky” and inhabited by giants, against whom the Jews are “small as grasshoppers”. Only the heads of the two tribes (Joshua and Caleb) claimed that the promised land is beautiful and that it is worth entering into it. The people believed, naturally, to the majority, and all night from eighth to ninth of Av, the Jews wept, saying that God brought them to this country out of malice, and that it would be better for them to die in the wilderness… Then God was angry and said that since the Jews cried in vain, but now they will have many reasons for crying on this night. This will be the punishment for the sin of unbelief.

And the first punishment was a ban on the generation that left Egypt to enter the Holy Land. People who had doubted God were doomed for forty years to roam in the wilderness — for a year each day of intelligence and die in it, as they asked.

Secondly, because the Jews were frightened (despite all the wonders and signs) of the peoples who inhabited Canaan and refused to enter Israel at a time chosen by God, it was said that now the Jews can get this land only after heavy wars, although they could get it miraculously – without any effort.

But, apparently, these punishments were not enough for the Jews to unconditionally accept their God and his commandments. Having settled in the Promised Land, the Jews continued to sin – idolatry was the gravest sin, because it was a direct violation of the commandment “Do not make yourself an idol”. Moreover, according to the testimony of the prophet Jeremiah (who witnessed the destruction of the First Temple), the Temple itself became the object of worship. The prophet said that the people of his generation endlessly repeated the words “the Temple of the Lord” (Jer. 7: 4), believing that the Temple would save them, redeem any of their crimes. Thus, the meaning of the Temple was forgotten as a way of serving the Almighty, and the Temple acquired the meaning of a mediator, an intermediate link in the relationship between Jews and God. In essence, the instrument for attaining the goal (serving the Lord, communicating with the Almighty) acquired an inordinate importance and occupied a central place in the consciousness of people. The goal is relegated to secondary positions. Therefore, the Temple was destroyed: God removed this temptation.

And it is believed that until the Jews repent of the sin of unbelief, this punishment will be with them, and there will be more and more new reasons for crying on this day.

Below is a list of the sad events that happened over the centuries on the Ninth of Av:

The Ninth of Av, 2449 from the creation of the world (1313 BC), the Most High pronounced the verdict according to which the generation that left Egypt was doomed to wander in the desert for 40 years and die without seeing the Land of Israel.

On the Ninth of Av of the year 3338 from the creation of the world (422 BC), the First Temple, built by Solomon in the 9th century BC, was destroyed and burned down by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.

The Ninth of Av of the year 3828 from the creation of the world (68 AD) by the Roman commander (later emperor) Titus Vespasian destroyed the Second Temple, built in the 4th century BC.

The Ninth of Av (presumably in 135 AD) fell to the last stronghold of the Jewish rebels, and the leader of the uprising, Shimon Bar-Kochba (Bar-Kuziva), was killed. According to the testimony of the Roman historian Dion Cassius, 580 thousand Jews perished in the battles of that war, 50 fortified cities and 985 settlements were destroyed; almost all of Judea turned into a scorched desert.

On the Ninth of Av, several years after the defeat of Bar Kochba (no more precise information is available), the Roman governor Turnus Rufus plowed up the territory of the Temple and its environs. It was fulfilled by the prophet: “Because of you, Zion will be plowed up like a field, and Jerusalem will become ruins, and the Temple Mount will become a wooded hill” (Micah 3:12). The invaders forbade the Jews to live in Jerusalem. Anyone who violated the ban was facing the death penalty. Jerusalem became a pagan city called Aelia Kapitolina.

On the Ninth of Av in 1095, Pope Urban II announced the beginning of the first crusade, as a result of which the “soldiers of Jesus” killed tens of thousands of Jews and destroyed many Jewish communities.

The Ninth of Av in 1146, during the second crusade, pogroms were organized in the Jewish communities of Germany and France.

The Ninth of Av in 1290 began the expulsion of the Jews from England.

The day after the Ninth of Av in 1306, a decree was issued to expel the Jews from France, and they had to leave all their property.

The Ninth of Av in 1348, European Jews were accused of organizing one of the largest plague epidemics in history (the Black Death). This accusation led to a brutal wave of pogroms and murders.

On the Ninth of Av in 1492, King of Spain Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabel I of Castile issued a decree expelling Jews from Spain.

The Ninth of Av in 1555 – the Jews of Rome were resettled in the first ghetto in history

On the Ninth of Av in 1567, the rest of the Jews of Italy were moved to the ghetto

The Ninth of Av in 1648, the massacre of tens or even hundreds of thousands of Jews in Poland, Ukraine and Bessarabia, organized by Khmelnitsky and his associates

The Ninth of Av in 1882 in Russia began the pogroms of the Jewish communities within the Pale of Settlement

The Ninth of of Av in 1914 began the First World War

On the Ninth of Av in 1942, the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto began

On the Ninth of Av in 1942, the death camp in Treblinka began to operate

Nevertheless, Jews believe that someday this day will be the biggest holiday – when all Jews repent of their sins, this is the day that the Messiah will be born.

Laws of the Ninth of Av include ban on eathing, drinking, wearing leather shoes, purchasing and wearing new clothes etc. Jews come to the morning prayers in old clothes, avoding bright colors, sit on the floor of synagogue, read Book of Eicha (The lamentations of Jeremiah).

Fast of the Ninth of Av

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