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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

"As the heavens are higher from the land, so also is My way higher than yours, and My thoughts from your thoughts" (Isaiah, 55:9).

On Tisha B'Av, five national calamities occurred:

During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 12 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)

The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)

The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)

The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar -- the Jews' last stand against the Romans -- was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 BCE)

The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city -- renamed Aelia Capitolina -- and access was forbidden to Jews.

Other grave misfortunes throughout Jewish history occurred on the Ninth of Av, including:

Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed, and many Jewish communities obliterated.

The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B'Av in 1492.

World War One broke out on Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Russia declared war on Germany. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.

On Tisha B'Av, deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto began.

The Sages say that the Messiah will be born on Tisha B’av. We read Eichah-Lamentations with the prayerful hope that he has already been born and that this day next year will be a day of joy.

All who mourn the destruction of Jerusalem will merit the celebration of her rebirth (Ta'anit 30a).