The Worst of Days

In just a few minutes it will be Tisha B’av, the ninth day in the Hebrew month of Av, a day when the worst sh*t in Jewish history has gone done time after time:

The Mishnah discusses the Five Great Calamities that happened in Jerusalem on the same day years apart, including the destruction of both temples and the Bar Kochba’s failed revolt against the Romans.

And the pattern continues:
The Jews were kicked out of England on the ninth of Av in the year 1290 CE, Spain kicked us out on the same day in 1492, Germany declared war on Russia in 1914, the Nazis began deporting Jews out of the Warsaw ghetto in 1942. Sometimes there’s a time zone gaffe, but bad things still happen when it’s Tisha B’Av somewhere: The AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires took place on the 10th of Av in 1994.

Observant Jews fast on this day, and some prepare a special meal the afternoon before, consisting of only bread, water and a hard-boiled egg. According to, “the egg is the only food which gets harder the more it is cooked � a symbol of the Jewish people’s ability to withstand persecution.”

Many rabbis interpret the awful happenings as a consequence for not heeding God’s warnings. Sara Yocheved Rigler’s highly relevant and thoughtful article “When God Moved Out” on puts this into a perspective even the most secular among us can grasp. Even if we aren’t Orthodox, isn’t it vital as humans to examine the consequences of our actions � before we act? Shouldn’t we mourn our own collective stupidity and ignorance � and make better choices? As non-observant Jews, what are the effects if we don’t teach our children the significance of mystical connections between ancient history and this moment, right now?

Being something of a fast-and-loose Jew myself, it’s not likely that I’ll meet the Talmudic standards of mourning for this day. I’m not sure my synagogue is having any kind of service. I would take the day off, except I already have several deadline-related appointments on my schedule. But my neshama cannot let it slide completely: We’ll eat hard-boiled eggs for dinner, discuss the strange and mighty coincidence of these historical events, wonder and be grateful for the ease of our lives, and see how we might listen better to God.

4 thoughts on “The Worst of Days

  1. I found these starnge/coincidental/ G-d-like dates very interesting. FYI: the evil Queen Isabella actually gave the Jews a few more days after her orfinal deadline so it fell on this one. Think she knew?

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