3-9 Av 5778
15-21 July '18
Attributes of the month of Av: Ruling permutation of the letters of HAVAYAH: KEH VAV YOD KEH, contained in the initial Hebrew letters of Haskeis Ushmo'a Yisrael Hayom... "...take heed and listen, O Israel, this day..." (Deut 27:9). The month's corresponding letter is: TET; Human attribute: HEARING; Body Part: LEFT KIDNEY ; Tribe: SHIMON; Constellation: ARYEH (Leo, the Lion).
Sunday-Friday 15-20 July / 3-8 Av
During these days, the stringencies of The Nine Days (first nine days of the month of Av) are observed as we approach the fast of Tisha b'Av (Saturday night-Sunday 21-22 July) commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples. The prevailing custom during the Nine Days is to abstain from meat and wine (except on Shabbat), not to change, wash and launder clothes (except essential underwear), not to wash one's whole body even in cold water except where washing is necessary for hygiene, and to minimize business and pleasure activities, in order to keep our minds focussed on the Temple and our yearning to regain it.
Monday night-Tuesday 16-17 July / 5 Av
Yahrzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the "ARI" (1534-72), outstanding Safed kabbalist and source of the teachings contained in Eitz Chayim, "The Tree of Life",
and numerous other volumes written down by his leading student, Rabbi Chaim
Vital. People in Israel flock to the ARI's gravesite in the old cemetery
Today is also the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Michel Dorfman (1913-2006), guardian of Rabbi Nachman's grave during World War II and the dark years of the Communist regime, leading elder of the Breslover Chassidim and builder of the new Kloyz (synagogue) in Uman.
Friday 20 July / 8 Av
Eve of Shabbat
Although some observe the prohibition of washing the entire body even on the eve of Shabbat during the Nine Days, many wash in warm water in honor of the Shabbat and wear their customary Shabbat clothes.
Friday night-Saturday 20-21 July / 9 Av
Shabbat CHAZON, Parshat DEVARIM
Torah reading: Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22; Haftara: Isaiah
1:1–27 "The vision (chazon) of Isaiah..." after
which this Shabbat preceding the Fast of Tisha B'Av is named.
"Intent, focussed prayer on this Shabbat elevates the prayers of all the year, because the prayer of a poor person elevates all prayers to favor" (R. Uri of Strelisk). "This is the greatest Shabbat of the year" (the Oihev Yisrael of Apta). "On Shabbat Chazon every Jew is granted a vision of the Holy Temple" (Lubavitcher Rebbe).
Today is the 9th Av, which is normally a public fast day commemorating the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and other tragedies. However since this year 9 Av falls on Shabbat, the fast is deferred until Saturday night-Sunday, since it is inappropriate to display any outward signs of mourning on the Shabbat. The only fast-day that is observed even on Shabbat is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
The Shabbat is celebrated in the normal way, and it is permitted to eat and drink as much as one desires until the time of sunset on Saturday afternoon, after which one must cease all eating and drinking.
Saturday night-Sunday 21-22 July / 10 Av
Fast of Tisha B'Av (deferred)
Today we observe the Fast of Tisha
B'Av commemorating (1-2) The destruction of the First and Second Temples;
(3) The decree that the generation of the wilderness who listened to the
evil report of the spies would not enter the Land of Israel; (4) Capture
of the city of Beitar after the failure of Bar Kochba's rebellion; (5)
Plowing of Jerusalem by the Romans. The expulsion of the Jews from Spain
in 1492 also took place on Tisha B'Av.
Besides abstaining from eating and drinking, full mourning is observed today, including sitting on very low chairs or on mats on the floor and abstaining from washing, annointing, wearing shoes and marital intimacy.
After the evening service at the conclusion of Shabbat, Megillat Eichah (Lamentations) is read, followed by the recital of Kinot, mournful dirges about the destruction of the Temple and other tragedies.
Following the morning service Torah reading, lengthy Kinot are recited followed by the reading of Eichah. This takes up most of the morning until midday. Many visit Jewish graves on Tisha B'Av to rouse the souls of the dead to beg for mercy for us.
The fast ends after nightfall (Tzeit Hakochavim, appearance of the stars) on Sunday. It is customary to recite Kiddush Levanah, "Sanctification of the Moon" after the evening service after end of the fast.
10 Av is the anniversary of the birth and death of Issachar, son of Jacob and Leah.
Sunday night-Monday 22-23 July / 11 Av
The Nine Days prohibitions against eating meat and drinking wine continue to be observed on Sunday night after the conclusion of the fast, but because this year the fast of Tisha B'Av was deferred, the prohibitions against laundering, washing and haircuts that normally apply until midday on the following day are lifted directly after the conclusion of the fast.
May we witness the return of the Divine Presence to Zion and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple quickly in our days. Amen!
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