Tonight, Jews around the world will begin a 24 hour fast in commemoration of Tishah B’Av. According to our tradition, it was on the 9th of Av that both the First and Second Temples were destroyed – first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and then by the Romans in the year 70 CE. Jewish tradition further teaches that throughout our history many of the worst atrocities against the Jews fell on Tishah B’Av.
In remembrance of these catastrophes many Jews observe a day-long fast and read from the book of Lamentations, a scroll in which the author bewails the destruction of the First Temple and the exile of the Jews from Jerusalem.
This year, the observance of Tishah B’Av takes on an interesting nuance. The global pandemic has forced every Jew around the world into a brief exile from our temples. We cannot gather for worship, and we cannot gather as a community. This reality brings us face to face with the intense sense of emotional and spiritual loss commemorated through this 2000 year old custom.
The loss of the Temples in ancient times was a catalyst for changes in the trajectory of Jewish history. This crisis will also have lasting impact. So whether we choose to fast or not, we all have an opportunity to pause and consider, what will our faith look like when we finally return to our temples today.