On the ninth day of the month of Av, Jews fast in memory of the destruction of the first temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC and of the second temple by the Romans on the same day in 70 AD. Tisha BeAv will be observed on August 7 This year.
As a sign of mourning, congregants sit on the synagogue sit on the floor or on 10 benches to read the Biblical Book of Lamentation – Prophet Jeremiah’s eye – witness account of the destruction of first temple.
As the anniversary of the most tragic events in Jewish history, the Ninth of Av is the most important day of mourning in the Jewish year other than Yom Kippur; it is the only fast day in the year that lasts a full night and day. All other fast begins in the morning and end the same night. Tisha BeAv begins at sunset and continues till the following nightfall.
Tisha BeAv carries several additional prohibitions that are not required by other fast: Drinking or eating anything, washing oneself (except upon rising and after using the bathroom), wearing shoes made of leather, marital relations are forbidden. One may not study the Torash because it brings joy – the exceptions are the book of Eichan (Lamentations), the Book of lyov (Job). The ‘bad’ passages in Yirmiyah (Jeremiah) omitting the passages of consolation, and various Talmudic and Midrashic passages, which deal with the destruction of the Holy Temples and the laws of mourning. Even in these cases studying in – depth is not permitted. Greetings, work and pleasurable activities are avoided.
The day before it is customary to eat a meal before Mincha (afternoon prayers). The Last meal is eaten after the Mincha prayers. Called the Seudah (Separating Meal), it includes only one cooked food, normally a hardboiled egg, eaten sitting on the ground or on a low seat; meat, wine and fish are forbidden. It is customary to eat a piece of bread dipped in ashes and to say ‘This is the Tisha BeAv meal”.