Monday, August 8, 2011

Tisha B'Av 5771

Starting at sundown tonight the most sorrowful day in Jewish History starts:  the 9th of Av.  While Yom Kippur is our Day of Atonement, the day we pray to G-d to forgive us of our transgressions.  Tisha B'Av is the day we mourn for all the destruction and hardships that were done to us through out history.
From Chabad

Picture this: The year is 1313 BCE. The Israelites are in the desert, recently having experienced the miraculous Exodus, and are now poised to enter the Promised Land. But first they dispatch a reconnaissance mission to assist in formulating a prudent battle strategy. The spies return on the eighth day of Av and report that the land is unconquerable. That night, the 9th of Av, the people cry. They insist that they'd rather go back. The Jews were shocked to realize that their Second Temple was destroyed the same day as the first to Egypt than be slaughtered by the Canaanites. G‑d is highly displeased by this public demonstration of distrust in His power, and consequently that generation of Israelites never enters the Holy Land. Only their children have that privilege, after wandering in the desert for another 38 years.
And that was just the beginning. There was more, much more to come.
The First Temple was also destroyed on the 9th of Av (423 BCE). Five centuries later (in 69 CE), as the Romans drew closer to the Second Temple, ready to torch it, the Jews were shocked to realize that their Second Temple was destroyed the same day as the first.

When the Jews rebelled against Roman rule, they believed that their leader, Simon bar Kochba, would fulfill their messianic longings. But their hopes were cruelly dashed in 133 CE as the Jewish rebels were brutally butchered in the final battle at Betar. The date of the massacre? Of course—the 9th of Av!

One year after their conquest of Betar, the Romans plowed over the Temple Mount, our nation's holiest site.

The Jews were expelled from England in 1290 CE on, you guessed it, Tisha b'Av. In 1492, the Golden Age of Spain came to a close when Queen Isabella and her husband Ferdinand ordered that the Jews be banished from the land.

World War II and the Holocaust, historians conclude, was actually the long drawn-out conclusion of World War I that began in 1914. And yes, amazingly enough, the First World War also began, on the Hebrew calendar, on the 9th of Av, Tisha b'Av.
Just a few of the sorrows of this day.  In synagogue, the book of Lamentations is read and mourning prayers are recited. The ark (cabinet where the Torah is kept) is draped in black.  Jews around the world will be fasting from Sundown to Sundown and many will sit on low stools at home as if they were sitting shiva.

The Sages enacted Yom Kippur-like restrictions on Tisha B'Av, including no eating (minimal wetting of hands and eyes is allowed), drinking, washing, use of cosmetic oils, or marital relations. Leather shoes are not worn, and even Torah study -- a major source of Jewish joy -- is restricted to topics connected with the Destruction of the Temples, prophecies of rebuke, Tisha B’Av, and the like. Sitting on chairs is not permitted until the afternoon, Tefillin and Tallit are donned only at the mincha (afternoon) service.

I too will be in mourning.  There will be no posts from me from Sundown to Sundown.  Nor will I even turn on my computer until then.  I am not a very observant Jew, but there are a few holidays I do observe.  This is one.

Some advice for those who are fasting today.
From Magen David Adom

Before the fast: Drink large quantities of liquid before the fast, preferably at least one and a half liters in the hours beforehand. Reduce consumption of caffeinated beverages, and of sweet or salty foods that can increase the feeling of thirst.

The last meal before the fast should include a mix of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and vegetables.

The elderly or ill: Those who are elderly or ill should discuss fasting with a doctor. Those suffering from a variety of illnesses, including but not limited to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, must take their medicine as usual during the fast.

During the fast: Those fasting are advised to remain in cool, shaded areas. They should be on alert for signs of dehydration, and should dial 101 for emergency help if they experience signs of dehydration such as extreme weakness, chest pain, sudden heavy sweating, or difficulty breathing.

Ending the fast: Breaking the fast is best done by drinking liquids accompanied by a small snack, such as a piece of cake or a slice of bread with cheese. After one hour, a light meal can be eaten.
Have an easy and meaningful fast.  Blogging will be light for the next 24 hours.

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