Monday, August 8, 2011

Tish B’Av, (the 9th of Av) a National Day of Fasting

Tomorrow August 9th 2011 is also the 9th of Av on the Biblical calendar.  In Judaism, this is considered a great day of tragedy in Jewish history.  It is one of 4 additional fast days other than the one mentioned in scripture, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonements.  The fast of Tish B’Av involves restrictions including no eating, drinking, washing, use of cosmetics, and marital relations. Leather shoes are not worn. Torah study is restricted to topics connected with the Destruction of the Temples, prophecies of rebuke and such because the study of the Torah is normally considered a great joy.  Sitting on chairs is not permitted until the afternoon, and the wearing of Tefillin and Tallit are only at the mincha (afternoon) service. 

In Jewish tradition, the hour before the start of Tisha B'Av, one hour before local sunset, is marked by a “mourning meal,” consisting only of a hard-boiled egg dipped in ashes, bread, and water. It is usually eaten while sitting on low stools or on the floor, with each person sitting alone in a different corner of the room.

The regular evening prayer service is followed by the reading aloud the book of Lamentations, in a traditional mournful melody.

Events on Tish B’Av in Jewish history.

·        God decreed, following the Sin of the Spies as recounted in Numbers 13-14, that the Children of Israel would not be allowed to enter the Land of Israel until the entire generation had died out. 

·        The 1st Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE.

·        The 2nd  Temple was destroyed in 70 CE

·        The fortress of Beitar, the last fortress to hold out during the Bar Kochba revolt in the year 135 C.E., fell to the Romans.

·        A year later, the Temple area was completely leveled, leaving no trace of the 2nd Temple.  This marked the last time the Jews had control of the Temple mount until it was retaken in the 6 Day War of 1967.

·        In 1290, the Jews of England were kicked out by King Edward 1st.  The expulsion was revoked in 1656

·        In 1492 the Jews of Spain were expelled by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella at the height of the Spanish Inquisition which was not abolished until 1834.

·        World War I erupted in 1914, setting the stage for World War II and the Holocaust.

·        The official documents detailing the “Final Solution” were signed by Adolph Hitler in 1942.

·        On the same day, the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp began.

·        The Jews of Gush Katif spent their last legal day in their homes on this day in 2005, and were forcibly expelled three days later.  Since then, over 8000 rocket and mortar attacks have been fired from the Gaza Strip against the civilian population of the Southern Negev.

Despite the sadness of the day, the saddest part of the regular daily prayers - tachanun - is not recited, in the anticipation of the final joyous Redemption that will render Tisha B'Av a day of joy.  It says in Zachariah that all of the fast days will be turned into feast days and men from every nation will join them and worship the LORD in Jerusalem.

Zechariah 8:19-23 NKJV 19 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'The fast of the fourth month, The fast of the fifth, The fast of the seventh, And the fast of the tenth, Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts For the house of Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.' 20 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Peoples shall yet come, Inhabitants of many cities; 21 The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, "Let us continue to go and pray before the LORD, And seek the LORD of hosts. I myself will go also." 22 Yes, many peoples and strong nations Shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, And to pray before the LORD.' 23 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."

The Sabbath following Tish B’Av is called Shabbat Nachamu, the Sabbath of Consolation.  The Torah Portion for this day is called Va’etchanan and includes the reading of the Sh’ma from Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  When Messiah Yeshua was asked what the greatest commandment was in Matthew 22:36-38, He quoted the Sh’ma.  The Haftarah reading is from Isaiah 40:1-26 and it speaks of comforting God’s people.  It is the first of seven Haftarah readings speaking of comforting leading up to the fall feast of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year.

We can join our Jewish brothers and sisters in this day of fasting, sitting with them in remembering the great tragedies in history in anticipation of the great joy that will take place at the return of Messiah.  For when we stand (or sit) with the Jewish people, we are standing with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as a light to the Nations.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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