9th day of Av - “the saddest day in Jewish history”
Tisha B’av, or the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, is a fasting day commemorating many tragedies that have befallen on the Jewish people over the years that coincidently all occurred on the same date; Tisha B’av, therefore, is also called “the saddest day in Jewish history”.
On Tisha B’av we commemorate the destruction of the two temples; the first was destructed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the second temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. We also commemorate the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
The fast of Tisha B’av ends a 3 week mourning period that starts on the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tamuz, and commemorates the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem, which led to the destruction of the first temple. During this time, it is not permitted to get married or have other parties, as well as cutting your hair. In the last 10 days of this period, some people refrain from eating meat or drinking wine, (except on Shabbat) and from wearing new clothes.
The fasting of Tisha B’av is very much like the fasting of Yom Kippur; it is not permitted to eat or drink (even water), bathe, shave or wear leather. In the synagogues, people will read the scroll of lamentations, or Eicha, and will spend the morning chanting and reading Kinnot.