Observed on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, Tishah B’Av is considered a day of mourning both of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem which were both destroyed. Liberal Judaism has never given the ancient Temple a centrally religious role which is in contrast to traditional streams of Judaism. While the mourning of the Temple’s destruction may not resonate with many liberal Jews, these days, Tishah B’Av is seen as a day to remember the many tragedies that the Jewish people have gone through.
Tishah B’Av is traditionally seen as the darkest of all days and this time that is set aside is used for fasting as well as mourning both Temples in Jerusalem being destroyed. This fast lasts from sundown until the following sundown, much like Yom Kippur while in the synagogue, the chanting of the Book of Lamentations occurs as are kinot, dirges that are written during the Middle Ages. The Jewish people will read sections from the books of Jeremiah and Job, along with reading passages from both the Bible and the Talmud which cover the Temples’ destruction in 586 B.C.E. and then again in 70 C.E. These readings occur while sitting on low stools, which is associated with being in mourning.
Three weeks prior to Tishah B’Av, many traditional Jews will begin semi-mourning on the 17th day of Tammuz in the Hebrew calendar. The Babylonians made their intrusion of the Temple in Jerusalem on this day in 586 B.C.E. On this date, traditional Jews will not hold wedding ceremonies, festive celebrations, or even cut their hair. On the first of Av, the mourning will increase with the abstinence from meat or wine consumed, no shaving is not permitted as well as buying new clothes. The night before Tishah B’Av, a 24-hour fast commences and at services, chanting from the Book of Lamentations occurs. If Tishah B’Ar occurs on Shabbat, the observance will begin right after the end of Shabbat and will extend till the next day.
Tishah B’Av has become something that has lost the same importance it once had with liberal Jews because the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem doesn’t have the same significance and priority that it once did. While some historians will dispute whether or not the destruction of the Temples occurred on this day or not, Tishah B’Av has turned into a symbol of the suffering and loss experienced by the Jewish people. Throughout the centuries, there have been many other tragic events that are remembered on this day, including the massacres during the Crusades, the expulsion from Spain, as well as the Holocaust. Tishah B’Av is a day today that allows us to reflect on the pain and suffering that still takes place in our world.