July 24, 2007

Today in Jewish History - Av 9

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In 423 BCE, the first Holy Temple was destroyed by fire, as Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian troops conquered Jerusalem. Also on this day, the second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Tisha B'Av has long been a day of calamity for the Jewish people: on this day, during the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 12 Spies, resulting in the decree postponing enter to the Land of Israel. Other grave misfortunes throughout Jewish history occurred on the Ninth of Av: The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B'Av in 1492. World War I broke out on the eve of Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia; German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust. On the eve of Tisha B'Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka. Today, Tisha B'Av is the Jewish national day of mourning, when we don't eat, drink or bathe. Lights in the synagogue are dimmed, and we read the Book of Lamentations, Jeremiah's poetic lament over the destruction of Jerusalem.