Tisha B’Av – The Ninth Day of the Month of Av

“Disengagement” is scheduled to start next Monday, one day following the Ninth Day of Av (TISHA’ BE’AV) – a most crucial day in the history of the Jewish People in particular and in the history of humanity in general.

Enclosed you’ll find a few reflections on TISHA’ BE’AV.


1. The Ninth Day of the Jewish month of Av (August 14, 2005) commemorates a series of major Jewish calamities:

*The Golden Calf (1312 BC);
*The failure of the “Ten Spies”, which caused 38 additional years in the desert;
*The destruction of the First Temple (586 BC), 100,000 killed and a nation exiled;
*The destruction of the Second Temple (70 BC), 2 million killed and a nation exiled;
*The crashing of the Bar Kokhba Rebellion (135 AD), 100,000 killed;
*The pogroms of the First Crusade (1096), scores of thousands slaughtered;
*The expulsion of the Jews from Britain (1290);
*The expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492);
*The eruption of WWI (1914)
*The end of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the massacre of 50,000 survivors in concentration camps; (May 1943).

2. The Ninth Day of Av is the central of the Four Days of Fast, commemorating the destruction of the First Temple: the 10th day of Tevet, the 17th day of Tamuz, the 9th day of Av and the 3rd day of Tishrey.

3. The Ninth Day of Av has been a most ignored commemoration day, in spite the fact that it solemnizes the destruction of the Temple, the destruction of Jewish national infrastructure, a 2,000 year exile, and the culmination of three weeks of national/religious predicament (Yemey Beign Hameitzareem).

4. The Book of (5) Lamentations (Megilat Eikhah) is read on the Ninth Day of Av, reminding us of the state of the Jewish Nation following the destruction of its religious and national infrastructure.

5. Emperor Napoleon was walking at night in the streets of Paris, when he heard weeping and crying emanating from a nearby synagogue. When told that the wailing and lamenting commemorated a catastrophe, which took place in 586 BC, he declared: Any People which solemnizes its ancient history in such a manner is destined for a glorious future!

6. Lessons drawn from the Ninth Day of Av:

*The Jewish State is an absolute essential and a prerequisite to minimize future calamities;
*The Ingathering of Jews to the Jewish State is a personal and a national requirement;
*The Jewish State must be strong and vigilant, enhancing its power of deterrence, and should not rely on foreign military personal, nor should it rely on security guarantees and/or peace keeping forces;
*The Jewish State must be true to its legacy: Faith and vision over cynicism and “pragmatism”, long-term strategic values and interests over short-term convenience, tenacity and defiance of odds over vacillation and submission to pressure, construction rather than destruction.
*Realism and not wishful-thinking should guide the Jewish State;
*Learning from history by avoiding – and not by repeating – critical errors.

Yoram Ettinger
Ambassador Ettinger (ret.) is a former minister at Israel’s embassy in Washington, and a former consul general of Israel in Houston.