Jewish Holidays

The Haftarah of Shabbat Chazon

July 19, 2011, by

The Shabbat before Tisha B’Av, is called Shabbat Chazon – the Shabbat of foretelling – as we read the Haftara portion from the prophecy of Isaiah (1:1-27), as the final of the “three of affliction,” readings. Rabbi Mendel Hirsch points out, the prophet does not lament because the Bet HaMikdash (The Temple in Jerusalem) was […]

Tisha B’Av: The Haftarot of Consolation

July 19, 2011, by

On the Shabbos immediately after Tisha B’Av, we read the haftarah of “Nachamu, Nachamu” from Yeshayahu. Each consecutive Shabbos, until Rosh Hashanah, we read another selection from Yeshayahu, in which the prophet continues to comfort the Jewish People, following the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of our people from our land. Each selection elaborates […]

The Connection Between Tisha B’Av and Sefer Iyov (Job)

July 19, 2011, by

Although it is prohibited to learn most Torah topics on Tisha B’Av, one may nevertheless study Eichah, sections of Jeremiah which relate to the Destruction and related Midrashim, the laws of Avelus (Mourning) and Ta’anis (Fasts), as well as Sefer Iyov (The Book of Job). (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 554:1-3.) It is easily understood why […]

Tisha B’Av and Parshat Va’etchanan

July 19, 2011, by

The Torah reading of Tisha B’Av morning is found in Parshat Va’etchanan (4:25-40). The Talmud (Sanhedrin 38a) references this reading with the destruction of the First Beis Hamikdash, as the numerical value of the phrase, “V’noshantem”, with with the reading begins, alludes to the number of years that the first Temple stood. Despite this, one […]

It’s a Mitzvah to be Sad…One Day a Year, on Tisha B’Av

July 19, 2011, by

Once a disciple of a certain Chassidic Rebbe noticed his Rebbe dancing happily on the Ninth of Av. He was astonished by this behavior, for everyone knew that Tisha B’Av was not a time for happiness, but for mourning. As the disciple came closer he noticed that while the Rebbe was dancing so happily, tears […]

What Mourning Means: Reflections of Rav Soloveitchik zt”l on Tisha B’Av

July 19, 2011, by

Rabbi Koenigsberg is a Rosh Yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University, and the editor of two volumes of the Shiurei HaRav series, an annotated collection of Rav Soloveitchik’s lectures published by the Mesorah Commission of the Orthodox Union. One of his volumes deals with mourning and Tisha B’Av. The customs […]

Megillat Eicha (Lamentations) and its Timeless Message

July 19, 2011, by

The prophet Jeremiah spent years warning his people that they repent and stop insisting that the Temple would protect them. To his chagrin, the Jews honored the Temple more in spectacle than in spirit. But, the Jews ignored him, even imprisoned him, and to his unbearable agony, he was proven right. The Temple was destroyed, […]

Tragedy in Perspective: Why Did Rabbi Akiva Laugh?

July 19, 2011, by

At the end of “Masechet Makot,” the volume of the Talmud called “Makot,” on pages 24a and 24b, there are two similar stories. In each, the same group of great scholars hears something or makes an observation which evokes from the majority of the group the expected human reaction, namely, tears. But one among them […]

Destruction and Desecration: Titus the Wicked and his Nephew Onkelos the Convert

July 19, 2011, by

“The replacement for Vespasian, the newly crowned Emperor, was the wicked Titus, from whose mouth the verse ‘Where is their G-d, the Rock in Whom they trusted?’ seemed to come. For Titus blasphemed and cursed Heaven!” “What did he do? He seized a prostitute, and entered the Holy of Holies, spread out a Sefer Torah, […]

The Fateful Meeting: Give Me Yavneh and It’s Sages

July 19, 2011, by

The setting is Jerusalem, approximately in the year 70 C.E.; the city is in the grip of a terrible famine, and it is surrounded by powerful Roman legions, under the command of Vespasian. “Abba Sikra, the head of the ‘Biryonim,’ the extremist Jewish militants, was the brother-in-law of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai. Ben Zakkai sent […]