There’s a warm, neighborhood feeling at MKT where members feel at home and everyone is welcome. Our growing community enjoys spiritual fulfillment at daily minyans, and Shabbat and holiday services. A wide range of educational programs, social activities, and acts of tikkun olam bring us together. Anyone looking to expand and enhance their Jewish experience and connection will find a home at Midbar Kodesh Temple today, tomorrow, and always.
Today is the 4th day of the Hebrew month of Av. We are now in the middle of what is commonly referred to as "The Nine Days."
The Nine Days are part of a larger calendric formulation known as "The Three Weeks" which started on the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz. All together this time period represents the rather grim and calamitous moments in Jewish history; times of particularly harsh persecution and suffering.
Starting with the 17th day of Tammuz it is traditional to refrain from parties, live music, weddings and celebrations. Starting with the first day of Av, we add the prohibition of eating meat, drinking alcohol and buying new clothing. Many refrain from getting a haircut. All of this leads us up to the ninth day of Av.
The Ninth of Av is considered to be the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. In addition to the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem, it has other calamities associated with it like the first Crusade in 1095, the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
The Ninth of Av is also a fast day that lasts about 25 hours, beginning at sunset on the eve of Tisha B'Av and ending at nightfall the next day. In addition to the prohibitions against eating or drinking, many Jews also observe prohibitions against washing or bathing, applying creams or oils, wearing leather shoes, or having marital relations.
Mourning customs, similar to those applicable to the shiva period immediately following the death of a close relative, are traditionally followed for at least part of the day, including sitting on low stools, refraining from work, and not greeting others. Eicha, the Book of Lamentations, which is understood by many to be the prophet Jeremiah's eyewitness account of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, is chanted in a special melody, and is followed by the kinnot, a series of liturgical lamentations.
The loss of the central focus of Jewish worship and dispersion of the population into the diaspora was a severe spiritual and psychological blow to the Jewish people. The yearly commemoration of these events reminds us that there are continued acts of oppression and violence against the Jewish people, and that despite them all, we persevere and flourish.
With all of the terrible rioting and acts of anti-Semitism occurring around the world; with Israel at war, it is clear we need to continue to remind ourselves that there are many that still wish to destroy the Jewish people. Those of us living in places of freedom and safety should not take that for granted.
We will have our own Tisha b'av commemorations on Monday evening August 4 at 9 PM and Tuesday morning at 7 AM.
Painting above - The Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (1867), painting by Francesco Hayez. Courtesy Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Venice