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What happened on the Ninth of Av?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus


Library » Holidays » 3 Weeks | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Picture this: The Israelites are in the desert, recently having experienced the miraculous Exodus, and are now poised to enter the Promised Land. But first they send out a reconnaissance mission, to assist in formulating a prudent battle strategy. The spies return on the eighth day of Av and report that the land is unconquerable. That night, the 9th of Av, the people cry. They insist that they’d rather go back to Egypt than be slaughtered by the Canaanites. G-d is highly displeased by this public demonstration of distrust in His power, and consequently that generation of Israelites never enters the Holy Land. Only their children have that privilege, after wandering in the desert for 40 years.

The 9th of Av would turn out to be a challenging day for our people throughout history
The 9th of Av would turn out to be a challenging day for our people throughout history. The Mishnah1 enumerates five sad events that occurred on this day:

1. The abovementioned episode (in the year 1313 BCE).
2. The destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem (423 BCE).
3. The destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (69 CE).
4. The conquest of the city of Betar by the Romans. This brought to an end the Bar Kochba rebellion (133 CE). The city was pillaged and hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered.
5. The plowing of the Temple Mount by the Romans, one year after the conquest of Betar.

And that’s not all. The Jews were expelled from England in 1290 on - you guessed it - Tishah b’Av. In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain. King Ferdinand decreed that by the end of July, Spain should be Judenrein. They were then given two days extra, until the second of August, the 9th of Av. The expelled Jews were now susceptible to capture, murder, looting, and wild beasts—both the four-legged and two-legged varieties. Word War I was declared on the 9th of Av in 1914. This war ultimately led to the political and economic upheavals which caused the Bolshevik revolution and the Holocaust.


  • 1. Mishnah tractate Ta'anit 4:6


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9th of av

Posted by: Anonymous, Dallas, TX on Aug 21, 2005

And then there is 2005. Jews are forced from Israeli land in Gaza.

Editor's Comment

I believe that the evacuation actually started on Monday, the 10th of Av. However, the Holy Temple was kindled late noon of the 9th of Av, and burnt all the next day...

9th of Av 2005

Posted by: Anonymous on Jul 31, 2006

If I recall correctly, the Gov't wanted the expulsion to take place on the 9th of Av. However, after hearing an outcry of complaints, they realized that as bad as it was that they were kicking Jews out of their homes, it would be cruel to do so on the 9th of Av.


Holidays » Fast Days

The fifth month of the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to July-August. The saddest month of the year due to the destruction of the Temples, and the many other tragedies which befell the Jews in this month.
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
First written rendition of the Oral Law which G-d spoke to Moses. Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna in the 2nd century lest the Oral law be forgotten due to the hardships of the Jewish exiles.
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.