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'Nine Days' of Mourning Begin Today

The “Nine Days” – a historic/national period of mourning – begins today (Monday), the first day of the traditionally sad month of Av.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 7/12/2010, 12:56 PM / Last Update: 7/12/2010, 12:49 PM

The “Nine Days” – the second stage of the “Three Weeks” of gradually-increasing mourning over the destruction of the Holy Temples and Israel's exile – begins today (Monday), the first day of the traditionally mournful month of Av.

The ninth day of Av - literally: Tisha B’Av - is the day on which both Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, roughly 2,000 and 2,500 years ago. The first third of the month, therefore, is a time of heightened sorrow and avoidance of potentially harmful situations. The Talmud teaches: “When the month of Adar begins, we increase joy, and when Av begins, we reduce joy.”

One must not enter into certain judicial proceedings during this period, if they can be avoided, nor may one make joyful preparations for new young couple or purchase items that bring joy.

In addition to the restrictions of the “Three Weeks,” which include not marrying, partying or shaving/haircutting, the consumption of meat or wine is also forbidden during the Nine Days. In addition, general Ashkenazi custom is not to wear freshly-laundered clothes, wash clothing, or shower in hot water during this period, while Sephardim implement these restrictions only during the actual week in which Tisha B’Av falls.

Other Calamities
The Mishna states that Tisha B’Av is also the day on which the Children of Israel accepted the slanderous reports of the Twelve Scouts sent by Moses regarding the Land of Israel, and on which Jerusalem was razed following Bar Kokhba's revolt against the Roman Empire.

Other calamities occurred on this day, as well, including the expulsion of English Jewry in 1290, the expulsion of Spanish Jewry in 1492, the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the first deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp in 1942, and the end of legal Jewish residence in Gush Katif in 2005.

A group of leading religious-Zionist rabbis is planning to visit Jerusalem and the Temple Mount later today, in a show of solidarity and loyalty with the holy sites. The traditional monthly “Temple Mount Gates March” is also scheduled to be held this evening, with the expected participation of thousands. Lectures and historical tours are planned for the week, including Midreshet LIndenbaum's day of study on Sunday which includes a tour led by Rav Yakov Medan, Head of Har Etzion Yeshiva, in memory of Midreshet graduate Tsurit Yaron, z"l.