Tisha B’av & The 3 Weeks

Most of the Temple Burned on the 10th: 5 Things to Know About the 10th of Av

1. On the 7th of Av, the Babylonians conquered the Temple and on the 9th of Av towards evening, they set it on fire and it burned down throughout the next day. The Gemara cites Rabbi Yochanan’s words that if he had been alive in that generation, he would have ordained the fast for the 10th of Av, because most of the Temple burned down on that day. There were scholars during the period of the Mishna who had the custom to fast on both the 9th and 10th of Av. Nevertheless, the prophets and sages decided to ordain the fast on the 9th of Av, because everything follows the beginning, and the beginning of the calamity was on the 9th of Av.

2. The 10th of Av is also a day of mourning. The Jewish people accepted upon themselves not to eat meat or drink wine on the 10th of Av. For Sephardi Jews, the custom is to refrain from meat and wine all day, while for Ashkenazi Jews, the custom is to refrain only until noon.

According to most Achronim, other prohibitions which are kept in addition to not eating meat and drink wine, include no washing clothes or wearing laundered clothes, no getting a haircut, no listening to cheerful music, and no bathing in warm water (although lukewarm water is allowed). Others have the custom only to avoid meat and wine on the 10th of Av, but allow washing, getting a haircut and bathing in hot water. It is preferable to keep the stringent view, but under pressure, one may rely on the lenient view. It is also the custom not to recite the blessing of Shehechiyanu on the 10th of Av, similar to the entire Three Weeks.

3. This year, the fast of Tisha B'Av was postponed and falls on the 10th of Av. Therefore, the mourning rites do not continue after the fast is over, and after nightfall, one is permitted to get a haircut, launder clothes, and bathe in warm water. However, many think one should avoid eating meat and drinking wine after nightfall, since on a day that one was fasting it is not proper to enjoy meat and wine. Some follow a lenient view permitting them to eat meat and drink wine immediately after the end of the fast.

4. Just as the 9th of Av was a day of tragedy for Israel throughout the ages, so was the 10th of Av. Here are two examples from Jewish history.
The expulsion from France: Jews were ordered to leave France on the 10th of Av in July, 1306. About 100,000 Jews were forced to wander in search of a home, and many of them died on the way.

The Jewish community did not know in advance about the planned expulsion. The King of France, Philip the Fair, kept the decree secret, because he didn’t want the Jews to flee with their assets. One of the king's motives for expelling the Jews was economic — Philip wanted to plunder Jewish money to help revive the failing French economy. The hundreds of years of unsuccessful attempts to force the Jews to renounce their faith were also a factor that contributed to the evil decision.

The expulsion had significant implications beyond the enormous human suffering. It brought to an end the important period of the Tosafists, the French Jewish scholars whose commentaries accompany the Talmudic writings.

The expulsion was a precedent for other mass expulsions that befell European Jews. While various European cities and areas had previously expelled their Jews, this expulsion decree, which applied to most of France, was the most prominent. The French expulsion was a precedent for later mass expulsions. The existence of the Jewish community in a European country became insecure. Jews never knew if suddenly they will have to pack their belongings under orders from above.

Ten years later, Louis X invited the Jews back to France and some responded to the invitation. The Jewish presence in France did not last long, and they were expelled again in 1396 by Charles VI.

5. An expulsion from England occurred in the 10th of Av, in August 1905. On this day the Law of Foreigners was passed which authorized the “Commissioner of Immigration” to prevent the entry of persona non grata migrants, defined as someone who doesn’t intend to work for his own living, someone who was determined to be insane, or someone who was convicted of a non-political crime. The law also included the deportation of immigrants who had already settled in England and were labeled undesirable.

With the passing of the Law of Foreigners, immigration became restricted by law. The English anti-emigration agenda became more and more inflexible with time. It also influenced the Americans, and in 1924, the US Congress approved a law sharply limiting the flow of immigrants from Eastern Europe. These restrictions remained in force during the Holocaust, and had grave ramifications for the Jews of Europe who were desperately looking for a place of refuge, but found the door closed on them by these countries.

May this year see these days of tragedy turned into days of joy and happiness.


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