Appendix A

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Ari Levitt*

Appendix A.
Tisha b’Av and 17 Tammuz

A brief listing of infamous events that took place on
Tisha B’Av and 17 Tammuz throughout history

Mosh declared 17 Tammuz and 9 Av (21 days apart) as special Fast Days of Mourning annually. Zechariah said that in the Messianic Kingdom, however, these Fast Days would become Feast Days of celebration.

Originally, the fast was observed on the Ninth of Tammuz since that was the day Jerusalem fell prior to the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. However, after Jerusalem fell on the 17th of Tammuz—prior to the destruction of the Second Temple—the Sages decided upon a combined observance for both tragedies, the 17th of Tammuz.

The Fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz

Mentioned by the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 8:19) as “the fast of the fourth month,” the 17th of Tammuz marks the beginning of the destruction of Jerusalem. On this day in 70 CE the Romans breached the walls encircling Jerusalem, which led to the destruction of the second Temple. (During the siege preceding the first destruction of the Temple in 587 BCE, the Babylonians breached the walls on the ninth of Tammuz (Jeremiah 39:2), but both events are commemorated on the same date. The actual destruction of the Temple itself took place on the 9th of Av—both in 587 BCE and 70 CE. (See Tisha B’Av.)

“Five catastrophes befell our fathers on the 17th of Tammuz: the tablets (of the Covenant) were broken, the daily Temple sacrifices were suspended, the walls to the city were breached, Apostamus burned a Torah scroll, and an idol was erected in the Temple” (Ta’an 26a). The tablets were broken because Moses ascended Mount Sinai on the 7th of Sivan, remained there for 40 days, and descended to find the people worshipping the Golden Calf on the 17th of Tammuz. The daily sacrifices were suspended during the civil [sic.] of the Hasmoneans John Hyrcanus and Aristobulus because the Greeks at that time laid siege to Jerusalem and there was no access to sacrificial animals [149]. The inhabitants of Jerusalem would lower money over the city wall in a basket, and the enemy would send up lambs in return. “On one occasion, a pig was sent up instead, and it dug its hooves into the wall, and the earth shook over an area of 500 parasangs ... Apostamus burned the Torah scroll.”

It is not known precisely to what this refers. However, some identify it with the incident in which the Roman procurator discovered a Torah scroll, desecrated, and burned it.

For the traditional, this day is observed by fasting. The fast begins at sunrise and concludes at sunset of the same day. this applies to all fasts, with the exception of Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, both of which begin on the preceding night. Fasting is the only restriction imposed; working and bathing as usual are permitted.

The fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz extends only from dawn until dark. During the Shaharit service, special penitential prayers (selihots) are recited. The Torah is read at both Shaharit and Minhah services, and a haftarah (prophetic reading) is chanted as on other fast days. The Seventeenth of Tammuz initiates a period of mourning, known as bein ha-metzarim, “between the straits”, which concludes three weeks later with the fast of Tishah be-Av.

The Three Weeks and The Nine Days

For the traditional, the days between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av are considered days of mourning, for they witnessed the collapse of Jerusalem. In the Ashkenazi Jewish minhag (custom), weddings and other joyful occasions are traditionally not held in this period.

A further element is added within the three weeks, during the nine days between the 1st and 9th day of Av. During this period, the pious refrain from eating meat and drinking wine, except on Shabbat or at a Seudat Mitzvah (such as a Pidyon Haben or completing the study of a religious text.) Many minhags observe a ban on cutting one’s hair during this period. However, the length of time varies: some refrain only during the week in which Tisha B’Av falls.

Tisha B’Av (Av 9)

The saddest day of the Jewish calendar. On this day both the First and Second Temples were destroyed (587 BCE and 70 CE). On this day in 1290, King Edward I signed the edict compelling the Jews to leave England. The Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492 also occurred on this day. Tisha B’av also marked the outbreak of World War I. The date is also associated with the final collapse of the abortive revolt (135 CE).

Year Day Event
  17 Tammuz Noah sent the dove out of the ark, to see if the waters had receded. (Genesis 8:9)
  17 Tammuz Joseph and Samuel are born 40 weeks after 1 Tishrei.
  17 Tammuz Moshe broke the tablets at Mount Sinai in response to the sin of the Golden Calf. Levites kill 3000 Israelites and become set apart to HaShem. (Exodus 32:25-29)
  17 Tammuz Moshe’s spies search out the promised land. Day 19 (Numbers 13, 14 Mishna, Ta’anit 29a)
-1312 9 Av Spies return from 40 days in Israel with evil reports of the Land of Israel. Jewish people cry in despair, give up hope of entering the Land of Israel.
-587 17 Tammuz The daily offerings in the First Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem, after the Kohanim could no longer obtain animals.
-587 9 Av Destruction of First Temple by the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezar. About 100,000 Jews killed during invasion. Exile of remaining tribes in southern kingdom to Babylon and Persia.
-168 17 Tammuz Antiochus defiled the Temple by offering a slaughtered pig on it’s altar and spreading pig’s blood and entrails on the walls and inner parts of the holy of holies in the Temple. This was the “abomination of desolation” foretold by Dani'el and was also a precursor to antichrist who will come in the End Times.
70 17 Tammuz Jerusalem’s walls were breached, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple.
70 9 Av Destruction of Second Temple by Romans, under Titus. Over 2,500,000 Jews die as a result of war, famine and disease. Over 1,000,000 Jews exiled to all parts of the Roman Empire. Over 100,000 Jews sold as slaves by Romans. Jews killed and tortured in gladiatorial “games” and pagan celebrations.
71 9 Av Turnus Rufus plows site of Temple. Romans build pagan city of Aelia Capitolina on site of Jerusalem.
134 17 Tammuz Prior to the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostamos the Wicked burned a Torah scroll, setting a precedent for the horrifying burning of Jewish books throughout the centuries [150].
135 9 Av Bar Kochba revolt crushed. Betar destroyed - over 100,00 killed.
1095 9 Av First Crusade declared by Pope Urban II. 10,000 Jews killed in first month of Crusade. Crusades bring death and destruction to thousands of Jews, totally obliterate many communities in Rhineland and France.
1239 17 Tammuz Pope Gregory IX ordered the confiscation of all manuscripts of the Talmud.
1290 9 Av Expulsion of Jews from England, accompanied by pogroms and confiscation of books and property.
1391 17 Tammuz More than 4,000 Spanish Jews were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain
1492 9 Av Inquisition in Spain and Portugal culminates in the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. King Ferdinand of Spain issued the expulsion decree, setting Tisha B’Av as the final date by which not a single Jew would be allowed to walk on Spanish soil. Families separated, many die by drowning, massive loss of property. With funds provided by Ferdinand, Christopher Columbus, a Messianic Jew, sets sail to locate the land which will become a Jewish refuge for the next 500+ years.
1559 17 Tammuz The Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned and looted.
1776 17 Tammuz United States of America gained independence from England, and became the place of religious freedom for both Jews and Gentiles for over 200 years, until the election of “President” Barack Obama.
1914 9 Av Britain and Russia declare war on Germany. First World War begins. First World War issues unresolved, ultimately causing Second World War and Holocaust. 75% of all Jews in war zones. Jews in armies of all sides — 120,000 Jewish casualties in armies. Over 400 pogroms immediately following war in Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and Russia.
1942 9 Av Deportations from Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp begin.
1944 17 Tammuz The entire population of the Kovno ghetto was sent to the death camps
1970 17 Tammuz Libya ordered the confiscation of all Jewish property.
1989 9 Av Iraq walks out of talks with Kuwait.
1994 9 Av he deadly bombing the building of the AMIA (the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina) which killed 86 people and wounded some 300 others.

_______________

149. I have not been unable to determine the source of this quote. The extremely awkward wording of this sentence fragment is presented exactly as I found it written identically on eight or nine different web sites. [RETURN]

150. Some sources claim that Apostamos was a Roman general and that this event occurred just prior to the Bar Kochba revolt. Other sources claim that Apostamos was a general of Antiochus and that this event occurred ca. 168 BCE. [RETURN]

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