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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tisha b'Av 5766

Today is Tisha b'Av 5766 - the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av in the year 5766.

Five tragedies befell the Jewish people on this day:

1. God decreed that the Jewish people would have to spend forty years in the desert because they listened to the spies' slander and rejected the land of Israel (Bamidbar (Numbers) 13-14).

2. The first Temple was destroyed.

3. The second Temple was destroyed. Today, only the Western Wall of the Temple Mount is left standing:

4. The city of Beitar was captured during the Bar Kochva revolt of 3880.

5. Jerusalem was plowed under and its name was changed to Ilya Capitolina.

Because of these five tragedies (and many others that have befallen the Jewish people on this day throughout history), today is a fast day that is matched only by Yom Kippur: it lasts 25 hours and not only do we not eat or drink, we also do not wash ourselves, wear leather shoes or put on creams and ointments. It is also a day of national mourning. Until noontime, we sit on the floor as a mourner does.

Yes, the picture above was taken today (on the ramp as we were leaving). For those who are worried why it does not look crowded, I believe that because this is a day of national mourning, it is not a time for a social scene. So I go to the Kotel, but in the heat of the day, which is the least crowded time. And I stay outside rather than going inside where it is still crowded (and air conditioned). (For those familiar with the term, I go for Mincha Gdola).

While I was there, I saw the latest and greatest Magen David Adom ambulance, and snapped this picture:

For the Hebrew-impaired, the red line of Hebrew on the bottom says "Tahanat erua rav nifgaim" (mass casualty event station). Thank God, it has been quiet today, although the security was tighter than my almost-18-year old son and I ever remember seeing.

I'll be back with more soon.


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