Tisha B’Av – Why?
Tisha B’Av is a fast day to recall the destruction of the first and second temples and other events – attributed according to tradition to this date.
The destruction of the First Temple – 586 BCE – occurred on the seventh of the month of Av according to Kings 2 (28: 8-10), or on the 10th according to Jeremiah (52:12-16). Accordng to the Talmud it was determined on this date because of the start of the troubles (Talmud Yerushalmi, Taanit, 4:9). According to the testimony of Yosef Ben Matityahu the Second Temple was burnt in 70 AD, on the 10th of Av and the date of mourning for the destruction was moved to the 9th, which was already a known date of mourning. According to tradition this day is also a day of lamenting the sin of the spies, in which it was decreed that they would not enter with the Children of Israel into Israel.
The three weeks between 16th Tammuz and 9th Av are called “the three weeks”. “All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress (Lamentations 1:3). During this time according to tradition many troubles and disasters befell the people of Israel throughout the generations. During the three weeks we reduce happy occasions. We do not hold celebrations and take on the customs of mourning. In the Ashkenazi tradition during “the nine days” between the first of Av and the ninth of Av the mourning increases and additional mourning customs are added such as prohibition of buying clothes and shoes, abstention from cutting hair and abstention from eating meat and wine. In the Sephardic tradition the mourning increases during the week starting with the 9th of Av.
During these times, there are those who believe, the dangers are increased of the actions of demons and we should act with them cautiously.
On the 16th Tammuz the walls of Jerusalem were breached by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, and by the Romans during the time of the Second Temple. On 16th Tammuz according to tradition several additional troubles and difficult events took place:
Moses broke the Ten Commandments for the first time on the mountain; the eternal sacrifice that was regularly sacrificed twice a day in the Temple was ceased when the Greeks besieged Jerusalem during the era of the Hasmonean kings Hyrcanus and Aristobolus, as no sheep remained for the sacrifice.
On this day Apostomos, a Roman soldier, burned a Torah scroll that he found. On this day an idol was placed in the Temple, it would seem in the Hasmonean era or the era of Adreanos the Roman Caesar.
On this day Betar fell at the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt.