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Monday, July 26, 2004

Tisha B'Av

Tuesday, July 27h is Tisha B'Av. As this article points out, five national calamities occurred on this date in history:

1) During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 12 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)

2) The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)

3) The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)

4) The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar -- the Jews' last stand against the Romans -- was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 CE)

5) The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city -- renamed Aelia Capitolina -- and access was forbidden to Jews.

Other misfortunes occuring on Tisha B'Av include:

6) The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B'Av in 1492.

7) World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.

8) On the eve of Tisha B'Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.

It is a national day of mourning, fasting and prayer. But it is also a day of hope and opportunity. Hope that we can eliminate the distance we have created among ourselves and with G-d. An opportunity to renew our commitment to our relatives, neighbors and friends. An opportunity to realize that strangers become friends when we give of ourselves to them. An opportunity to appreciate that there is a G-d who always loves us, even when He is giving us a potch (smack).

Let us hope, pray and make every personal effort to make this the last Tisha B'av of mourning.