The Ninth Day of Av (in Hebrew: Tisha B'Av
) is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. In the synagogue, the cushioned chairs are
pushed out of the way and the entire congregation sits on the floor or on low boxes, shoeless (shoes being a sign of comfort and prosperity), the
Torah scrolls have been stripped of their elegant and ornamented wrappings and are now wrapped in plain black cloth, the ornamented curtain over the
doors of the cabinet of the scrolls (the ark) is missing.
The destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians was preceded by a siege of Jerusalem which reduced the inhabitants to the starvation (Second Kings
25:3), therefore the weeks preceding Tisha B'Av are marked by an absence of festivities (.e.g., weddings are not scheduled for this period). The meal
preceding the commencement of Tisha B'Av is bare subsistence (traditionally dry bread and water, and a hardboiled egg dipped in ashes).
At sundown, the congregants go to the synagogue but do not greet each other. This commences one of the two total 24-hour fasts of the year (the other
fast is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement) - no food or water until the next sundown. The congregants sit as mourners and recite the book of
Lamentations (all 154 verses) in a mournful, traditional chant. This is followed by traditional poems (called kinos
) recounting the horrors of
the fall of Jerusalem and the misery associated with that event. Some of the regular evening service is recited and the congregants get up and return
home in the dark, again without exchanging pleasantries.
The next morning the congregants return to the synagogue, as before, and the morning service is recited - with some changes (e.g., the blessings,
"Blessed are Thou ... Who provides for all me needs" and " ... Who crowns Israel in splendor", are omitted). Again, there are no cushioned chairs,
and the lights are not turned on - the congregants are expected to read by whatever daylight is coming through the windows, they again do not wear
shoes and, unlike other morning services, do not wear the prayer shawl. The lesson from the Prophets is Jeremiah 8:13 to 9:23. Lamentations is again
chanted. More kinos
are recited, recounting the horrors of the siege by Nebuchadnezzer, the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the
Temple, the exile to Babylonia, and martyrdoms that have occurred since then (in the last century a few new ones, memorializing the victims of the
Holocaust, have been added); it's a very long service. After it is over the congregants return home, but they are still fasting and additionally
prohibited from a number of comforts ... including reading the Scriptures (because reading God's word brings joy) - except for reading Lamentations,
the frightening (not the comforting) passages of Jeremiah, and the Book of Job.
For the afternoon service, which frequently is delayed until just before sundown so that the evening service can commence almost immediately
afterwards without anyone having to travel any more, the curtain has been restored, the lights are turned on, and prayer shawls may be worn - but
still no cushioned chairs, no shoes. Again some special prayers, including one begging God to comfort and restore Jerusalem to its former glory. The
evening service ends the fast, although a few restrictions on amusements persist until the next day.
The Hebrew calendar is so contrived that the Ninth of Av does not fall on a Monday or Wednesday or Friday. And when it falls on a Saturday (the
Sabbath) - which seems to happen fairly often, the fast and special services are postponed to commence at sundown Saturday afternoon so the day is
observed on a Sunday. This year the Ninth of Av falls on Saturday, July 28th, 2012 (which is to say it would commence on Friday night), but, because
it is a Sabbath, the fast and observances of the day are delayed till the end of the Sabbath, at sundown on Saturday afternoon. Thus, observant Jews
cannot watch the TV at all for the first day of the Olympics - first because of the Sabbath, then because of the postponed Tisha B'Av. It is not
clear how observant the Israeli team is, but out of respect for the people in their homeland, they might
skip the opening ceremonies.
The dates for Tisha B'Av in years to come: (These are the days
, the fast would begin the night before the date listed. * As mentioned, when
Tisha B'Av coincides with a Saturday, the fast and observance is delayed to commence on Saturday night and continue into Sunday)
2012 Sat* July 28_____ 2018 Sat* July 21
2013 Tue July 16_____ 2019 Sat* Aug 10
2014 Tue Aug 5______ 2020 Thu July 30
2015 Sat* July 25_____ 2021 Sun July 18
2016 Sat* Aug 13_____ 2022 Sat* Aug 6
2017 Tue Aug 1______ 2023 Thu July 27
edit on 6/12/12 by Shoonra because: (no reason given)
edit on Jun 20th 2012 by
Djarums because: fixed bbcode