Asar B'Tamuz & Tisha B'av
July 20, 2000; August 10, 2000
95 degrees outside, but your Jewish friends won’t head to
the pool with you. You’ve got extra tickets to the concert
of the century, but they turn you down. What’s up?
the 17th of Tamuz, kicks off a three-week
period of mourning, otherwise known as Judaism’s bummer in
the summer. Music, shaving, haircuts, and weddings are out.
Worst of all, there’s two fast days in the span of three
weeks. Everyone hates fasting. Perhaps that’s why the
rabbis used it to commemorate bad days in Jewish history, to
get people’s attention for a little introspection.
Shiva Asar B’Tamuz in 586 B.C.E., Babylonian
forces, which had sieged Jerusalem, broke through the city
walls. On Tisha B’Av, the ninth of Av, they
destroyed the first Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple).
17th of Tamuz has a bad history. In the 16th
century the Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned on this day,
and in 1944 the Kovno ghetto was destroyed, to name two
the Three Weeks lies the Nine Days, which begins on Rosh
Chodesh Av, the first of Av. Additional mourning customs
are observed during the Nine Days: no meat or wine is
consumed, no laundry is done, and only instructional
swimming is permitted. Wine and meat are permitted on
Shabbat, however, since Jewish law forbids mourning on
Nine Days conclude with Tisha B’av, which
commemorates many national Jewish tragedies, most
prominently the destruction of the first and second Temples.
Tisha B’av is observed through a 25-hour fast,
during which no eating, drinking, or sexual relations is
permitted. Leather shoes are not worn, either.
Tisha B’av, Jews act like mourners, sitting in low
chairs and refraining from greeting each other. The Book of Eicha
(Lamentations) is read, and kinot are recited,
special prayers that recall the Temple and the sins of the