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Stone Piles that
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Differentiating Judaism from Christianity
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Destruction of Jerusalem // The Talmud
"DESTRUCTION OF THE HOUSE"
On Tisha Be'AV
Die Zerstörung des Tempels von Jerusalem - Francesco Hayez (1867)
Destruction of Jerusalem (Churban Yerushalayim) materials are available at the
Josephus Archive &
A Harrowing Tale of Destruction
Remembering Jerusalem's destruction "Welcome to Beit Katros - the home of an important family of priests who served
in the Second Temple and are mentioned in the Talmud. Visitors to the restored
ancient site are in for a unique experience: a gripping multimedia, sound and
light show dramatically recreates the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the
Second Temple against the backdrop of the social strife and fraternal division
that undermined the foundations of the Jewish nation."
Rabbi Cassi Kali: A decade later, hatred from Sept. 11 far from over
"After the second temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE, the
resulting devastation on the Jewish people left many asking, “why?” One
reason given was that this happened not because of war or political
strife, but because people harbored baseless hatred for one another."
MK Ze'ev: Remember Expulsion Like the Destruction of the Temple
"Wednesday marked six years since the destruction of Gush Katif, the
expulsion of its 8,000 Jewish residents and the burning of the
synagogues there, in the “disengagement” from Gaza by Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon’s government. MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) told Arutz Sheva that
the expulsion from Gush Katif should be remembered just as the
destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem is remembered."
The Limits of Mourning (2008) "The three week period mourning for
the destruction of the Temple begins this week and once again we will
recall the catastrophes that overtook our people both in the year 586
BCE when the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians and in 70 CE when
the Second Temple was burned by the Romans. Perhaps it is too simple,
however, to speak only about the Temple. Much more was involved." (The
writer is an author and lecturer who serves as the head of the
Rabbinical Court of the Masorti Movement.)
Tisha Be'Av: The Third Temple that wasn't Julian, who wanted to form a
common cause with the Jews against Christianity, asked: "Why do you not
sacrifice to God, as required by the laws of Moses?" The Jews replied:
"We are not allowed by our laws to sacrifice outside our Holy City. How can
we do it now? Restore to us the City, rebuild the Temple and the altar, and
we shall offer sacrifices, as in days of old." He promised: "I shall
endeavor with the utmost zeal to set up the Temple of the Most High God."
When God Moved Out "Then, in the middle of the night one night, I woke
up from a drunken stupor. I must have been out for a long time, maybe the
whole previous day. I looked around and discovered that Jeff and the kids
were gone. I mean really gone. They had moved out and taken all their stuff
with them. I couldn't believe it. Jeff was always crazy about me. I was sure
he'd come back. I was sure until the day the divorce papers arrived by
registered mail. Then I knew that I had ruined my life. That's when I
started to come to AA. On Tisha B'Av God walked out on us and took His
house with Him. "
Group seeks to make
AD70 more relevant for secular Jews - "Kalmanovitz decided to use the
words of the Jewish historian Josephus, who witnessed and survived the
bloody ordeal of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. by the
Romans. In his writings, Josephus describes not only the Second Temple's
destruction, but also the Roman massacre of the Jewish population in the
Holy City. "We deal with so many symbols that we tend to forget that these
events happened to real people," Kalmanovitz says. The audience can expect
to hear such horrific descriptions as "...They [The Romans] went in numbers
into the ... city with their swords drawn, they slew those whom they
overtook ... and set fire to the houses whither the Jews fled ... and made
the whole city run down with blood, to such a degree indeed that the fire of
many of the houses was quenched with these men's blood." (Jewish Wars, Book
VI, chapter 8, paragraph 5)"
History through a Jewish lens: The War of Tisha B'av - "This
translation comes from my Artscroll edition of the Chumash, pages
1081 and 1085. First, Devarim/Deuteronomy 28:49-50:
HaShem will carry against you a nation from afar,
from the end of the earth, as an eagle will swoop, a nation whose
language you will not understand, a brazen nation that will not be
respectful to the old nor gracious to the young. Rambam
comments on Deuteronomy 28:49 that Vespasian and his son Titus came from
Rome to conquer the Land of Israel and destroy Jerusalem and the Second
Temple. The awful conditions described though verse 57 took place
during the siege of Jerusalem. A yeshiva student studying these lines
in Warsaw on the night of Wednesday, August 30, 1939, would have read Rambam in the Hebrew, saying exactly what I quoted you. However, if
he had time to follow the reading of the Torah in shul
(synagogue) on September 2 and could concentrate upon it, instead
of the screaming of the Luftwaffe overhead, he might have had a very
different comprehension of these same lines. "
A Breach in the Walls - Israel Today "Historian
Flavius Josephus, an eyewitness of all that took place, described
these scenes in his book The Jewish War, recounting how the
Romans made the first breach in the wall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This was
the beginning of the end of the Jewish homeland at that time in
history.... But even if the (current) pullout takes place
just after the 9th of Av, the proximity to this tragic period is
allegorical. The Palestinians are poised to create the first breach into
the Promised Land, an event they see as the beginning of the end of
Zionism. The question is whether this is the beginning of the end, as it
was in 70 AD, or is it simply a turning point? After all, God has
promised to change Israel’s destiny for good: “I will gather you from
all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the
Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you
into exile” (Jeremiah 29:14)."
The Targumim of the Megillot
"2 When Moses the Prophet sent messengers to spy out the land, the
messengers returned and gave forth a bad report concerning the land of
Israel. This was the night of the ninth of Ab. When the people of the House
of Israel heard this bad report which they had received concerning the land
of Israel, the people lifted up their voice and the people of the
House of Israel wept during that night. Immediately the anger of the
Lord was kindled against them and he decreed that it should be thus in that
night throughout their generations over the destruction of the Temple. "
"19 "When I was delivered into the hand of
Nebuchadnezzar," Jerusalem said, "I called to my friends, sons of
the nations, with whom I had made treaties, to come to my aid. But
they deceived me and turned to destroy me. (These are the Romans who
entered with Titus and the wicked Vespasian and they built siegeworks
against Jerusalem.) My priests and my elders within the city
perish from hunger, because they searched for sustenance for
themselves to eat, in order to preserve their lives. " (Targum
``On the "ninth of Ab" it was decreed concerning our fathers, that they should not enter into the land (of Canaan), the first and second temple were destroyed, Bither was taken, and the city ploughed up.''
(Misu. Taanith, c. 4. sect. 7. T. Hieros. Taanioth, fol. 68. 3. & Maimon. Hilch. Taanioth, c. 5. sect. 2.)
``If I had been in the generation (which fixed the fast for the destruction of the first temple), I would not have fixed it but on the tenth (of Ab); for, adds he, the greatest part of the temple was burnt on that day; but the Rabbins rather regarded the beginning of the punishment.''
(T. Bab, Taanith, fol. 29. 1.)
``what is the meaning of these words, "the day of vengeance is in my heart?" Says R. Jochanan, to my heart I have revealed it, to the members I have not revealed it: says R. Simeon ben Lakish, to my heart I have revealed it, "to the ministering angels I have not revealed it".''
(T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 99. 1.)
"Had I been alive in that
generation, I would have fixed [the day of mourning] for the tenth [of
Av], because the greater part of the Temple was burnt on that day."
The 10th of Av: When the Temple was in Flames)
As Tisha B'Av has been a day of Jewish misfortune and unfortunate
occurrences throughout Jewish history, so too has been the Tenth of Av.
Will history record that on the Tenth of Av
in the year 5765, the process of the expulsion of the Jews from their
homes in Gaza began?"
Tragedy in Perspective
"The replacement for Vespasian, the newly crowned Emperor, was the wicked Titus, from whose mouth the verse 'Where is their G-d, the Rock in Whom they trusted?' seemed to come. For Titus blasphemed and cursed Heaven!"
"What did he do? He seized a prostitute, and entered the Holy of Holies, spread out a Sefer Torah, and committed a sin on it. He then took a sword and thrust it into the curtain dividing between the Holy and the Holy of Holies. A miracle occurred and blood spurted forth, causing him to think that he had killed "himself" (where "himself" is a euphemism for Heaven)…"
"Abba Chanan says, 'Who is like You, O Strong One, G-d?' (Psalms/Tehilim 89:9), 'Who is like You Strong and Hard, for You hear the blasphemy and the cursing of that wicked person, and are silent?' "
"In the Yeshiva/Academy of Rabbi Yishmael it was taught, 'Who is like you among the mighty (e-lim), O G-d?' (Shemot 15:11), 'Who is like You among the silent ones (il-mim), O G-d?' "
"What did he do?"
"He took the curtain and made it like a sack and he brought all the holy vessels from the Temple and put them into it, and placed the curtain with the vessels on a ship for transport to Rome where he would use them to boast (as we see to this day recorded on the Arch of Titus)."…
"On the way to Rome, a giant wave was about to crash down on his ship and sink it, when Titus again blasphemed, 'It seems that the G-d of the Jews has power only on the water; let Him come onto the land and fight me!' Whereupon a Heavenly voice was heard, saying to him, 'Wicked person, the son of a wicked person, the grandson of Esav, the wicked! I have a small creature who lives on the land. Get off the boat and fight with it.' "
"As he stepped off the boat, a small insect entered through his nose and lodged in his brain, where it pecked for seven years, causing him incredible agony… After he died, his brain was examined and they found in it a creature the size of a wild bird weighing two selahs. Before he died, he instructed that his body be cremated, and his ashes scattered over the seven seas, so that the G-d of the Jews would not be able to find him and bring him to Judgment."
"Onkelos the son of Kalonykos was a nephew of Titus, and he considered converting to Judaism. He had his uncle raised from the dead by magic and asked him, 'Who is most important in the next world?' Titus answered, 'The Jews are.' Onkelos asked, 'Should I attach myself to them?' Titus responded, 'No! They have too many laws; you wouldn't be able to observe them all. Better to fight against them and be a leader in the world, as it says, 'Those who oppressed them were on top.' " (Megillat Eichah 1:5)
"Titus' nephew asked, 'What is your judgment in the next world?' 'My judgment is what I decreed on myself. Every day I am burnt anew and my ashes are scattered over the seven seas.' "
Tisha B’Av & 17 Tammuz
A brief listing of infamous events that took place on
Tisha B'Av and 17 Tammuz throughout history.
Moshe declared 17 Tammuz and 9 Av (21 days
apart) as special Fast Days of Mourning annually. Zechariah said that in the
Messianic Kingdom, however, these Fast Days would become Feast Days of
Originally, the fast was observed on the
Ninth of Tammuz since that was the day Jerusalem fell prior to the
destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. However, after Jerusalem fell on
the 17th of Tammuz — prior to the destruction of the Second Temple - the
Sages decided upon a combined observance for both tragedies, the 17th of
Tammuz.The 17th of Tammuz falls on Sunday, July 8, 2001,
and the 9th of Av falls on Sunday, July 29, 2001.
The Fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz
Mentioned by the prophet Zechariah
(Zech. 8:19) as “the fast of the fourth month,” the 17th of Tammuz marks
the beginning of the destruction of Jerusalem. On this day in 70 CE the
Romans breached the walls encircling Jerusalem, which led to the
destruction of the second Temple. (During the siege preceding the first
destruction of the Temple in 587 BCE, the Babylonians breached the walls
on the ninth of Tammuz (Jeremiah 39:2), but both events are commemorated
on the same date. The actual destruction of the Temple itself took place
on the 9th of Av—both in 587 BCE and 70 CE See Tisha B'Av.)
“Five catastrophes befell our fathers
on the 17th of Tammuz: the tablets (of the Covenant) were broken, the
daily Temple sacrifices were suspended, the walls to the city were
breached, Apostamus burned a Torah scroll, and an idol was erected in
the Temple” (Ta'an 26a). The tablets were broken because Moses ascended
Mount Sinai on the 7th of Sivan, remained there for 40 days, and
descended to find the people worshipping the Golden Calf on the 17th of
Tammuz. The daily sacrifices were suspended during the civil [sic.]
of the Hasmoneans John Hyrcanus and Aristobulus because the Greeks at
that time laid siege to Jerusalem and there was no access to sacrificial
The inhabitants of Jerusalem would lower money over the city wall in a
basket, and the enemy would send up lambs in return. “On one occasion, a
pig was sent up instead, and it dug its hooves into the wall, and the
earth shook over an area of 500 parasangs ... Apostamus burned the Torah
scroll.” It is not known precisely to what this refers. However, some
identify it with the incident in which the Roman procurator discovered a
Torah scroll, desecrated, and burned it.
For the traditional, this day is
observed by fasting. The fast begins at sunrise and concludes at sunset
of the same day. this applies to all fasts, with the exception of Yom
Kippur and Tisha B'Av, both of which begin on the preceding night.
Fasting is the only restriction imposed; Working and bathing as usual
The fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz
extends only from dawn until dark. During the Shaharit service, special
penitential prayers (selihots) are recited. The Torah is read at both
Shaharit and Minhah services, and a haftarah (prophetic reading) is
chanted as on other fast days. The Seventeenth of Tammuz initiates a
period of mourning, known as bein ha-metzarim, "between the straits",
which concludes three weeks later with the fast of Tishah be-Av.
The Three Weeks (Tamuz
17-Av 9) and The Nine Days (Av 1-Av 9)
For the traditional, the days between
the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av are considered days of mourning,
for they witnessed the collapse of Jerusalem. In the Ashkenazi Jewish
minhag (custom), weddings and other joyful occasions are traditionally
not held in this period.
A further element is added within the
three weeks, during the nine days between the 1st and 9th day of Av.
During this period, the pious refrain from eating meat and drinking
wine, except on Shabbat or at a Seudat Mitzvah (such as a Pidyon Haben
or completing the study of a religious text.) Many minhags observe a ban
on cutting one's hair during this period. However, the length of time
varies: some refrain only during the week in which Tisha B'Av falls.
Tisha B'Av (Av 9)
The saddest day of the Jewish
calendar. On this day both the First and Second Temples were destroyed.
(587 BCE and 70 CE) On this day in 1290, King Edward I signed the edict
compelling the Jews to leave England. The Jewish expulsion from Spain in
1492 also occurred on this day. Tisha B'av also marked the outbreak of
World War I. The date is also associated with the final collapse of the
abortive Bar Kokhba revolt (135 CE).
have not been unable to determine the source of this quote. The extremely
awkward wording of this sentence fragment is presented exactly as I found it
written identically on eight or nine different web sites.
Noah sent the dove out of
the ark, to see if the waters had receded. (Genesis 8:9)
||Joseph and Samuel are born 40
weeks after 1 Tishrei.
||Moshe broke the tablets at Mount
Sinai in response to the sin of the Golden Calf. Levites kill
3000 Israelites and become set apart to HaShem. (Exodus
||Moshe's spies search out the
promised land. Day 19 (Numbers 13, 14 Mishna, Ta'anit 29a)
||Spies return from 40 days in
Israel with evil reports of the Land of Israel. Jewish people
cry in despair, give up hope of entering the Land of Israel.
||The daily offerings in the First
Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem, after the
Kohanim could no longer obtain animals.
||Destruction of First Temple by
the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezar. About 100,000 Jews killed
during invasion. Exile of remaining tribes in southern kingdom
to Babylon and Persia.
||Antiochus defiled the Temple by
offering a slaughtered pig on it's altar and spreading pig's
blood and entrails on the walls and inner parts of the holy of
holies in the Temple. This was the "abomination of
desolation" foretold by Daniel and was also a precursor to
antichrist who will come in the End Times.
||Jerusalem's walls were breached,
prior to the destruction of the Second Temple.
||Destruction of Second Temple by
Romans, under Titus. Over 2,500,000 Jews die as a result of war,
famine and disease. Over 1,000,000 Jews exiled to all parts of
the Roman Empire. Over 100,000 Jews sold as slaves by Romans.
Jews killed and tortured in gladiatorial "games" and pagan
||Turnus Rufus plows site of
Temple. Romans build pagan city of Aelia Capitolina on site of
the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostamos the Wicked burned
a Torah scroll - setting a precedent for the horrifying burning
of Jewish books throughout the centuries. 
||Bar Kochba revolt crushed. Betar
destroyed - over 100,00 killed.
||First Crusade declared by Pope
Urban II. 10,000 Jews killed in first month of Crusade. Crusades
bring death and destruction to thousands of Jews, totally
obliterate many communities in Rhineland and France.
||Pope Gregory IX ordered the
confiscation of all manuscripts of the Talmud.
||Expulsion of Jews from England,
accompanied by pogroms and confiscation of books and property.
||More than 4,000 Spanish Jews
were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain
||Inquisition in Spain and
Portugal culminates in the expulsion of the Jews from the
Iberian Peninsula. King Ferdinand of Spain issued the expulsion
decree, setting Tisha B'Av as the final date by which not a
single Jew would be allowed to walk on Spanish soil. Families
separated, many die by drowning, massive loss of property. With
funds provided by Ferdinand, Christopher Columbus, a Messianic
Jew, sets sail to locate the land which will become a Jewish
||The Jewish Quarter of Prague was
burned and looted.
||United States of America gained
their independence from England, and became the place of
religious freedom for both Jews and Gentiles for over 200 years.
||Britain and Russia declare war
on Germany. First World War begins. First World War issues
unresolved, ultimately causing Second World War and Holocaust.
75% of all Jews in war zones. Jews in armies of all sides -
120,000 Jewish casualties in armies. Over 400 pogroms
immediately following war in Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and
||Deportations from Warsaw Ghetto
to the Treblinka concentration camp begin.
||The entire population of the
Kovno ghetto was sent to the death camps
||Libya ordered the confiscation
of all Jewish property.
||Iraq walks out of talks with
||The deadly bombing the building
of the AMIA (the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires,
Argentina) which killed 86 people and wounded some 300 others.
sources claim that Apostamos was a Roman general and that this event
occurred just prior to the Bar Kochba revolt. Other sources claim that
Apostamos was a general of Antiochus and that this event occurred ca. 168
"The Destruction of the House"
General Titus Entering the Holy of Holies
Tisha Be’av: The Jewish people’s 9/11
By MICHAEL FREUND
Say what you will about Jewish holidays never being
on time, but Tisha B’av this year couldn’t possibly be falling at a more
With rockets raining down on the north and south of
the country, suicide bombers attempting to infiltrate Israel’s cities,
Iran developing nuclear technology and much of the world’s wrath
unfairly aimed in our direction, the onset of the fast day this evening
seems downright fortuitous.
After all, this time of year has always been one of
sadness and grief on the Jewish calendar, as we commemorate the numerous
disasters that befell our people on Tisha B’av throughout the ages.
Now, with so much terror and bloodshed going on
around us, and mounting uncertainty about what the future may hold,
Tisha Be’av has never seemed more relevant.
Obviously, a little historical perspective helps, so
consider this: Tisha B’av is the ninth day of the 11th month on the
Hebrew calendar. In other words, it is the Jewish people’s 9/11, our
national day of infamy.
ALL THROUGH our history this day has been one of
calamity and disaster, starting with the biblical sin of the spies in
the desert who spoke ill of the Promised Land, on through the outbreak
of World War I, the outcome of which paved the way for the rise of Adolf
Hitler and Nazi Germany.
In the medieval period, Tisha Be’av coincided with
the banishment of the Jews from various European countries. It was in
1290, on Tisha Be’av, that King Edward I of England signed the edict
ordering the expulsion of all Jews from his realm. This dastardly act
was replicated by France’s Philip the Fair in 1306, and later by Spain’s
Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.
But, of course, the central theme of the day lies in
recalling the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem,
both of which fell, centuries apart, on Tisha B’av.
When the Roman legions of the emperor Vespasian, led
by his son Titus, captured the Holy City over 19 centuries ago, it
marked a turning point in our people’s fate.
The historian Josephus, in Book 6, Chapter 9 of The
Jewish War, asserts that some 1.1 million Jews died at the hands of the
Romans during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and another 97,000
were taken captive. Many were either sold into slavery or fed to the
It was akin to a spiritual and demographic Holocaust,
one that nearly shattered the people of Israel, marked the end of the
commonwealth and initiated a long and painful exile from which most of
world Jewry has yet to return.
Indeed, all the tragedies and suffering that have
befallen the Jewish people over the past 2,000 years - the Crusades and
the Inquisition, the Cossacks and the pogroms, on through the Nazi
Holocaust - can be traced back to that fateful day, the 9th day of the
Hebrew month of Av, when the flames rose up over Jerusalem and consumed
the house of God that lay at its heart.
Had the city not fallen, had the Jews not been
defeated, the exile might never have occurred, along with all the death
and destruction that have accompanied it throughout the ages.
AND HERE we are, on the eve of Tisha Be’av, nearly
2,000 later, and the Jewish people find themselves once again under
Like the Romans of old, our modern-day enemies have
surrounded the Jewish state, diplomatically and militarily, terrorizing
the populace and attacking the innocent. Cease-fires are of no interest
to them, nor is peace their concern. Their agenda is simple and
straightforward, and chillingly extreme: to eliminate the Jewish
presence entirely from the region.
It is not a very cheerful thought, I know, given our
past track record on Tisha B’av. Even the most jovial of optimists must
surely be wondering where this is all headed.
Yet there is precisely one aspect of Tisha B’av that
gives me reason to hope that somehow, in some way, this time around
things might just be different.
The Talmud tells us that it was senseless hatred
among the Jews that brought about the downfall of the ancient Temple.
Josephus too notes how the bitterly divided Jewish factions continued to
fight and undermine each other, even as the Roman troops advanced
forward to slaughter them.
Nowadays, however, one thing has become clear: Amid
all the violence directed against us we stand together, united as never
How long it will last is anyone’s guess. But even if
it does prove fleeting, it nonetheless gives us a glimpse of a better
future, when all of Israel will truly come together.
SO WHEN we sit down on the floor this evening and
read the prophet Jeremiah’s Book of Lamentations while abstaining from
food and drink, it is worth recalling that all is truly never lost.
Tisha B’av may have been our 9/11, but out of this
painful crucible, we will eventually emerge stronger and more robust
than ever before.
For if Jewish suffering was born on Tisha B’av as a
result of disunity, at least we can say that this time around, we are
entering the fast day forged again into one.
And that thought alone should provide us with
comfort. As King David once said (in Psalms, chapter 30): “You have
transformed my sadness into a joyful dance, you have taken away my
sorrow and surrounded me with joy.”
May that be the legacy of this year’s Tisha B’av, and
ours as well.
The writer served as an aide in the Prime Minister’s
Office to former premier Binyamin Netanyahu. He is currently chairman of
Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based group that assists
“lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people.
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