In Jewish tradition the Hebrew date, 9th of Av (the 9th day of the eighth month in the Jewish calendar), is one of the most important days in the Jewish Calendar. According to tradition, the First and Second Temple in Jerusalem were destroyed on that same date.
The First Temple was built around the year 920 BC by King Solomon, and was destroyed on the 9th of Av, 586 BC, by the Babylonians and their king – Nebuchadnezzar:"...The nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem 13. And burned the house of the Lord, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire:" (Jeremiah 52:12-13).
The Second Temple, was built after the Jews returned from exile, Koresh the Persian King send the Jews back to Judea, what is called Aliyat (return of) Ezra & Nehemiah. Later on the Temple was renovated by King Herod the Great, and was destroyed by Emperor Titus, of the Roman Empire, on e 9th of Av in the year 70 AD.
"As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” (Mark 13:1-2)
In Jewish tradition, it's custom to fast and pray on this day. the obvious reason for fasting and praying is because of the destruction of both Temples, but really Jews pray and fast to remind themselves of our wrong doing as a nation! in the eyes of God.
Compared to Yom Kippur, the time we fast to ask forgiveness from God for individual mistakes, Tisha B'AV is a day of collective forgiveness, a time we ask God to help us be better as a nation before him.
The 9th of Av is also a day of celebration, it is a day of joy, for we are reminded again what is our place in this world and we think about our legacy, each leaves behind.
This year, the 9th of Av, holds a greater meaning for me than ever before.
Two weeks ago I was involved in a major car accident together with my friend and his two kids. We were rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, a doctor examined me and my friends then he looked at me and said – "do you believe in God?" I said to him of course!, then he replied – keep on doing that.
From the pictures of the smashed car and the shock of the doctors at the ER, I knew that we have all witnessed a true miracle.
This 9th of Av is for me a day of meditation, reflection and praise to the Lord for rescuing me as he did to the people of Israel.
I'll finish with one thought,
On both cases of destruction, the Jewish people had thought that this is the end, and questions such as: how can there be a Jewish faith without the Temple? and has God forsaken us? sprung and caused many to lose their faith.
But still we decided, as people, to commemorate these days of destruction for the past 2500 years! Why do we commemorate these days? to remember our ancestors and what they went through but also to celebrate God’s everlasting promise, the promise to always be with us even in the darkest of hours. "As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because you are with me".