• Comfort, Av, 9th of Av, Biblical Calendar


The 9th of of Av

What is saddest day in Jewish History?

The most solemn and saddest day on the Jewish calendar is Tisha B’Av—the ninth day of Av. It is a time for mourning as a community. On (or around) this day throughout history, many calamities have befallen the Jewish people. Consider some of these dark episodes:

  • August 15, 1096: the First Crusade officially began and 10,000 Jews died in the first month
  • July 18, 1290: England expelled the Jews
  • July 31, 1492: Spain expelled the Jews
  • August 1, 1914: World War I began, afflicting Jews in Europe
  • August 2, 1941: Nazis approved Himmler’s “Final Solution,” launching the Holocaust
  • July 18, 1994: Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing eighty-five

The saga of faith and fear, of heaven and earth

The Mishna lists “five calamities” that mark Tisha B’Av: the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians in 587 BC, the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in AD 70, Romans crushed Bar Kokhba’s revolt (killing 100,000 Jews) in AD 132, and the subsequent plowing over of the Temple Mount by the Roman commander Turnus Rufus the next year.

The fifth calamity on the Mishna list is the first one that took place—the giving of an evil report by the ten spies after spying out the Promised Land. The Children of Israel heard and believed that evil report and “All through that night, the entire community raised up their voices. The people wept” (Numbers 14:1-2).

The night this occurred was the ninth of Av. Israel’s baseless weeping and disobedience becomes the seed of all the tragedies that would happen on this day throughout Jewish history.

The fact is, those ten spies slandered the Lord Himself! Think about it: they said, “We cannot go up against this people, for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31). Really? This fearful thinking is crazy! Stronger than the G-d who parted the Red Sea and drowned Pharaoh’s army? Rav Papa comments:

“The spies spoke a great blasphemy at that time: ‘For they are stronger than us.’ Do not read, ‘than us,’ but rather, ‘than He.’ As if to say, ‘Even the Master Himself [the Creator] cannot remove His vessels from there.’”

The Rabbi’s see in the spies’ response a negative statement about the people as well as God. I think we can say that it was more than negative, it was dishonest—no one is stronger than He!

That entire generation that came out of Egypt surrendered to fear and, as a result, died in the wilderness. Lies feed fear, but truth feeds faith. This world runs on fear, but the Kingdom of God runs by faith. Currently, the media speaks so many lies. Because of it, many believers are living in a state of fear and anxiety. We can choose faith over fear. We must. This Tisha B’Av, we must access the grace not to lose heart. We must refocus ourselves on the G-d spoken of by the Apostle when he said, “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4, italics added).

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