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Tisha B’Av Prep Guide

by torahgirl

The Time Between the Troubles ends this Tuesday with Tisha B’Av, after three melancholy weeks. As usual with HaShem’s calendar, some preparation is required in order to properly commemorate this day.

Tisha B’Av (Hebrew: תשעה באב‎ or ט׳ באב, “the Ninth of Av,”) is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred about 656 years apart, but on the same Hebrew calendar date. Accordingly, the day has been called the “saddest day in Jewish history.” {Wikipedia}

1} First, make sure you understand what Tisha B’Av is about. It’s no good setting the day apart by publicly fasting and then not have a clear response when people ask questions. Simply googling “Tisha B’Av” will give you a long list of informative websites – Judaism 101 lists the Biblical/Talmudic references, has a thorough overview and several personal viewpoints about The Three Weeks, and has a helpful Orthodox “step-by-step guide” to the day. Naturally Wikipedia has a comprehensive article as well.

2} The fast starts at sundown on Monday, July 19. Traditionally, the book of Lamentations (Eichah) is read this evening, followed by sad poems called kinnot. Arrange to spend the evening reading with your family, or find an Erev Tisha B’Av service to attend at a local synagogue.

3} Look at your schedule for Tuesday and make a plan for the day. Determine if you’ll be at work all day, at home, or out and about. If it’s possible, consider taking the day off. The sages say work is permitted but discouraged on Tisha B’AV. Think about setting the day apart by changing your usual routine, perhaps by spending more time in prayer. The siddur has special additions to Shacharit and Minchah for fast days – it’s a good chance to read those!

4} The focus of our study on Tisha B’Av is about the destruction of the Temple, not Torah in general. The Schottenstein Talmud Bavli has a section discussing what led to the destruction of the Second Temple, and an excerpt is available for download from Artscroll. Disclaimer: it isn’t easy to study Talmud!

5} There are five calamities associated with Tisha B’Av – five historical tragedies. Do you know what they are? If not, this is another area for study that helps us better understand the sadness expressed by Judaism.

6} Other Scripture passages are read throughout the day, such as Deuteronomy 4.25-40, Jeremiah 8.13-9.23, Exodus 31.11-14 and 34.1-10, and Isaiah 55.6-56.8. Take the time to read these with your family and discuss them.

7} If you’re looking for more structure, check out the official resource from Artscroll “Tishah B’Av: Texts, Readings, and Insights: A Presentation Based on Talmudic and Traditional Sources.”

8} If you have extra time on your hands, write a letter to an Israeli soldier. Or make a charitable donation – it’s customary to give extra charity on fast days.

9} Be prepared to end the fast Tuesday night – whether on your own or with friends. It’s probably a good idea to have food readily on hand. Check the sunset time in your area and be aware of when the fast will end.

10} And of course… remember the end to our sadness. There is light at the end of the Tisha B’Av tunnel!

…there is a verse (Lamentations 1.15) that refers to the Ninth of Av as a moed, a word that can also mean a festival. This is a reflection of the idea that Tisha b’Av is the birthday of Moshiach and contains the potential to be a great holiday—a potential that will be realized with the coming of Moshiach. {, “Order of the Day”}

“To understand Tisha B’Av is to comprehend Jewish history; to feel Tisha B’Av is to connect with Jewish destiny. Yet even after the Three Weeks of preparation, many people “get through” this long fast day dutifully fulfilling its laws, while missing its spirit and message.” {Artscroll}

Don’t just get through the day. Savor the moments of sadness… knowing that they will come to an end. We have hope – the hope of the Temple being rebuilt {soon and in our days} and the precious hope of eternal redemption through Mashiach. Baruch Haba B’Shem Adonai.




  adriahbartos wrote @

This is a great help to prep 😀 Thank you for explaining why we should fast and what to do while we fast. I will be able to explain why i’m fasting in confidence. Also, the reading portions will be great to discuss with my family. Anytime I get hungry, I will just repeat the word “hope”. 🙂

  eshetkayil wrote @

Very comprehensive guide to Tishah B’Av, torahgirl. 😉 Thank you for clearing up a lot of questions.

The “Kinnot for the Six Million Kedoshim” (a poem about the Six Million Martyrs of the Holocaust) is available here: I’ve printed mine out and am preparing to recite it all tomorrow during Shacharit tomorrow morning.

Structuring the day around the fast, rather than the fast around the day, is such a good idea. I don’t want to let this day slip by without trying to use it for its intended purpose. Obviously, the sages have good reason for setting up this traditional fast, memorializing these sad events. I don’t want to just “get through” it, without stopping to remember why.

Thanks for the reminder!

  Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow « Footprints & Falafel wrote @

[…] completely irrelevant to my trip to Israel (although my sister wrote up a great article on it here), but the approaching sadness of the day does bring to mind the bittersweetness of […]

  Tisha B’ Av « MenOfTorah Discussions wrote @

[…] Av. Become familiar with the history, the customs, and the traditions of the Jewish people. Click here for a great blog post about Tisha B’ […]

  torahgirl wrote @

Interesting comment from the conservative synagogue in Charlotte:
“Traditionally, Tisha B’Av is a fast day like Yom Kippur, but since the establishment of the state of Israel, The Masorati movement established that we should fast for ½ a day (until Minchah), since Israel’s establishment celebrates the beginning of our redemption.”

What do you think of that?!


  eshetkayil wrote @

Hm. Well, you know how I feel about *changing tradition*… -shudder-

Although I do see their point, I would tend to stick with the Orthodox and keep fasting.

What exactly is the Masorati movement, anyway?

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