Category: bissel

Tisha B’Av

A Bissel of This and That

This month we will be focusing on Tisha B’Av, or the ninth day of the month of Av, which is observed this year from the evening of Wednesday, July 29th through the evening of Thursday, July 30th. Tisha B’av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar and in fact, is considered to be a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which coincidentally occurred on the ninth of Av. Tisha B’Av primarily commemorates the Babylonian destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE and the Roman destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.

Since then, numerous other tragedies have befallen the Jewish people on Tisha B’Av. Among them are the crushing of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt at the hands of the Romans in 133 C.E.; the expulsion of the Jews from  England in 1290 C.E.; the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492; and the beginning of World War I in 1914, which by general historical consensus led to World War II and the Holocaust.

Accordingly, Jews observe this day as a national fast day and a day of mourning. In Jewish law, many pleasurable activities are forbidden, and many of the restrictions generally observed by a mourner are followed. The restrictions on Tisha B’Av are similar to those on Yom Kippur: to refrain from eating and drinking (even water); washing, bathing, shaving, or wearing cosmetics; wearing leather shoes; and engaging in sexual relations. Work in the ordinary sense of the word is also restricted. People who are ill need not fast on this day. Many of the traditional mourning practices are observed: people refrain from smiles, laughter, and idle conversation, and sit on low stools.

The Book of Lamentations or Megillat Eicha, is read at night, and kinot, a series of mournful liturgical poems, are recited throughout the night and day. Many of the kinot mourn tragedies other than the destruction of the Temples, such as the Crusades and the Holocaust.

Even as we mourn, there is an element of joy and comfort. Indeed, the reading of Lamentations concludes with the verse “Restore us to You, O L‑rd, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old.” There is also a custom among many to use flimsy paperback Kinot booklets, hoping that they will not be needed next year.

Sources of information:;


Hatikva — The Hope

A Bissel of This and That

Our thanks to David Schindler for the original topic and input.

Hatikva, what is now the National Anthem of Israel, originated as a nine-stanza poem titled “Tikvateinu” meaning “our Hope.” Written in Palestine (then controlled by the Ottoman Empire) by Naftali Herz Imber in 1886(7) and set to music by Samuel Cohen in 1888, it expresses the Jewish hope to return to the land of Zion. It asks to return after more than 2000 years to live as a free nation in peace and that G-d will still have mercy on us.

Imber began reading his poem Tikvateinu at the campfire gatherings of the Jewish Agricultural Settlements in 1887. It was greatly accepted and repeated often. After a while, the nine stanzas were shortened to the first two. It became the official anthem of the Zionist Movement in 1897.

It continued to flourish through the years, even though some people (both Jews and Non-Jews) objected to it. During WWII it could be heard being sung at night in some concentration camps. It was openly sung in the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp at the first Sabbath service after its liberation.

Unofficially adopted in 1948 as the national anthem of the newly formed State of Israel, it wasn’t officially made the anthem until November 10, 2004 when the Knesset formally amended the Flag, Coat of Arms and National Anthem Law of 1949.

Our hope for peace continues today, not only for Israel but for the entire world during these times of great stress brought on by the Pandemic, and political and social unrest.

English Translation of Hatikva:

“As long as in the heart within,
The Jewish soul yearns,
And toward the eastern edges, onward,
An eye gazes toward Zion.
Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope that is two-thousand years old,
To be a free nation in our land,
The Land of Zion, Jerusalem.”

Hatikva Video:

Sources: Knesset.Gov; Wikipedia: Jewish Virtual Library;