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Tisha B’Av: The Saddest Day on the Jewish Calendar


Tisha B’av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, is coming up. On this day we mourn the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem that were destroyed on this day.

Our sages teach that the ninth day of Av is a cursed day that is eternally destined for bad luck and tragedy. The first such tragedy was the biblical episode of the spies.

In the Book of Numbers, we read how Moses sent emissaries to spy out the Land of Israel prior to the arrival of the Jewish People. They were sent to bring back a report on the Land of Israel and its inhabitants. Unfortunately, the spies brought back an evil report in order to persuade the Jewish people to stay in the dessert and not enter the Promised Land. So frightening was their report that the people cried that night. It was a result of this event that God decreed that the Jewish people would be forced to wander the dessert for 40 years.

 That night was the ninth of Av. We are taught that God told the people that since they cried for nothing on that ninth day of Av, they will cry on the ninth of Av forever.

Tisha b’Av Tragedies

Indeed, as mentioned, it is not only the destruction of the two Temples that we mourn. Rather, tragedy after tragedy has befallen the Jewish people on this day, and the crying continues.

Here are some of the other tragedies that occurred on the ninth of Av:

We can begin with the well-known episode of the Golden Calf, which occurred on the 17th day of Tammuz. (Tammuz is the month before Av, and it, too, is closely associated with the tragic flavor of Av.)

The First Crusade began on the ninth of Av, corresponding to August 15, 1096. Over 1.2 million Jews were killed.

The Jews were expelled from England on the ninth of Av, corresponding to July 18, 1290.

The Jews were expelled from France on the ninth of Av, corresponding to July 22, 1306.

The Jews were expelled from Spain on the ninth of Av, corresponding to July 31, 1492.

Germany entered World War One on the ninth of Av, corresponding to August 1, 1914. This was essentially the start of the Holocaust.

SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution” on the ninth of Av, corresponding to August 2, 1941.

The deportation of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, most of whom were taken to be gassed in Treblinka, took place on the ninth of Av, corresponding to July 23, 1942.


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