Why Is Tisha B'Av Important For Israel?

Tags: Holidays, Judaism, Israel Engagement, Jerusalem, Holocaust

By Stephanie Schneider

Whether you are a history buff or religious, the 9th of Av-Tish'a B'Av has both historical and religious value.

The date when both the First and Second Temple were destroyed: The First Temple and Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon 586BC, and The Second Temple and Jerusalem by Titus of Rome, 70CE, following which the Roman Emperor Hadrian established the heathen temple to Jupiter on the site of the Jewish Temple and rebuilt Jerusalem as a pagan city named Aelia Capitolina, and renamed the land as Palestina, to distance its Jewish heritage later echoed by the British in their labeling the land "Palestine."

Throughout Jewish history, there are many other tragedies that occurred on the 9th of Av such as the Jews being exiled from Spain and the sin of the spies. The beginning of WWI and of the mass deportation to The Warsaw Ghetto also happened on the 9th of Av, and it is also believed to be the date when Moses dropped the first set of tablets as he descended from Mt. Sinai witnessing the sin of the golden calf.

During this day, as we strive to remember the past, I think it must also reminds us about Israel and our connection to Israel.

Everything that occurred on the 9th of Av has a direct correlation to Israel, whether it occurred in the holy city of Jerusalem or outside of Israel.

The Jewish people have always longed for Israel since receiving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. We were then finally able to return to the land of Israel and build the Temple.

Modern events - from the Holocaust, the rise of modern Antisemitism and , the blatant hate of the anti-Israel movements show how important it is that we maintain a connection with Israel in the life of every Jew, deep within our souls, as reminder of our origin and the threats against us.

I live in Jerusalem and am still in disbelief that I live just minutes from the Western Wall. I am continuously amazed that I have fulfilled the 2,000 year old dream of returning to where those who came before me fought so hard to live. But I also know that not every Jew in the world will make this choice.

To me, there is a special importance to commemorating the 9th of Av to ensure that we remember how far we have come. Here in Israel, religious and secular alike are aware of the significance of the day.

It is announced on the radio and mentioned every hour in the news report (along with tips as to how to endure the fast). Songs are played that reflect the meaningfulness of this day in our national history. But finding that connection isn't always easy for those who may not observe this day of collective mourning.

As we go about our daily lives, how important is it to recall the painful destruction that the Jewish people have endured time and time again?

Is there a way to translate this memory of the past into action for the future?

I believe that Jews everywhere, of all types and styles and levels of observance, can find meaning in this day. It embodies much of what we as a Jewish people hold dear: making our collective memory personal.

If every one of us were to take a moment on this day to remember, it may just remind us that we all indeed belong to this long history wherein we may have suffered, but we have also overcome. From our ancestors here in this land thousands of years ago, every Jew in the world can feel a connection and a reminder to always have faith in a brighter future and to never lose hope.

Maybe then we can find our own lessons in the history of Tisha B'Av and use them to strengthen our connection to the land, to the people, and the history which has made the Jewish People what we are: Am Yisrael.

The story of the Jewish people did not end in 587 BCE, or 70 CE, or 1942. Many lives were lost. Many towns, villages, and holy places were lost, but our spirit has remained intact.

This Tisha B’Av the Jewish people and the Nation of Israel again will be mourning the loss of Jewish life. May we have the courage and the faith to know that we are stronger than our enemies, that bigotry and hatred will not destroy us. We will mourn our losses past and present, but we will also write the next chapter of our people’s story.
Rabbi Kleinman

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Tags: Holidays, Judaism, Israel Engagement, Jerusalem, Holocaust