Tisha B’Av is observed on the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. It is considered the saddest day in Judaism and a time of mourning and reflection on tribal collective suffering and tragedies.
Tisha B’Av is a significant Jewish annual fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First Temple, built by King Solomon, which was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and led to the exile of Jews to Babylon. It also marks the destruction of the Second Temple, rebuilt following the Babylonian exile and destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, resulting in the dispersion of Jews across the Roman Empire.
Observers of Tisha B’Av engage in a full-day fast from sunset to the following nightfall. It is a comprehensive fast that prohibits food, drink, and other pleasurable activities. Restrictions are similar to the customs during mourning, and certain activities are avoided.
Tisha B’Av five prohibitions:
No eating or drinking;
No washing or bathing;
No application of creams or oils;
No wearing of leather shoes;
No marital relations.
One of the most known traditions of Tisha B’Av is chanting the Book of Lamentations in a mournful melody which grieves the destruction of the First Temple, and is read in synagogues during the evening and morning services of Tisha B’Av. Special poetic elegies, known as “kinot,” are recited or chanted, lamenting the destruction of the Temples and other Jewish related tragedies.
Tisha B’Av serves as a reminder to the Jewish people of the importance of unity, the consequences of divisiveness, and a deep longing for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is a day of mourning the losses and tragedies of the past while inspiring hope for a better future of peace and welfare in the world.