Translated as “the ninth day of the month of Av,” Tisha B’Av marks the destruction of the two great Temples that once stood in Jerusalem, and over time it has come to mourn many of the tragedies which have befallen the Jewish people. Tisha B’Av embodies our collective history and struggles, and it is one of the most challenging days on the Jewish calendar. Tisha B’Av is a day of mourning.
On the eve of Tisha B’Av, we read the book of Eicha (Lamentations). It begins, “how lonely sits the city once full of people,” bearing witness to the destruction of the Temple and the exile from Jerusalem. But remembering alone is not enough. Jewish tradition tells us to observe Tisha B’Av by removing the amenities that provide us comfort and make up our daily lives and instructs us to fast, sit on the floor (a traditional sign of mourning), and to refrain from bathing, beautifying or applying cosmetics. These practices express collective mourning and remind us, once again, of what was and still is greater than ourselves.