1. What is Tisha b’Av?
Tisha b’Av – the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av – is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a number of tragedies that occurred on that date, most notably the destruction of both Temples, some five centuries apart.
2. Why did so many tragedies occur on Tisha b’Av?
The Talmud in tractate Taanit (29a) explains that the spies who delivered a negative report about the land of Israel in parshat Shelach (Bamidbar chapter 13) returned on 9 Av, a date easily calculated from known dates. Discouraged by the spies’ false report, the people cried all night. God said that since they cried for nothing, He would give them legitimate reasons to cry on that date.
3. Surely the Temples weren’t destroyed just for that! Why were they really destroyed?
The Temples weren’t destroyed because the Jews cried thousands of years earlier, that just set the date for future tragedies. The first Temple was destroyed circa 425 BCE because of rampant violation of the three cardinal sins: murder, adultery and idolatry. The second Temple was destroyed because of sinat chinam – baseless hatred between people (Yoma 9b).
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The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.