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What time Ierusalem that Cittie faire, Was sieg'd and sackt by great Vespasians heire   Canaan's Calamitie, Jerusalem's Misery ; The dolefull destruction of faire Ierusalem by Tytus, the Sonne of Vaspasian Emperour of Rome, in the yeare of Christ's Incarnation 74  (1598) Wherein is shewed the woonderfull miseries which God brought upon that Citty for sinne, being utterly over-throwne and destroyed, by Sword, pestilence and famine. 

Flavius Josephus

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Tisha B'Av
17 Tammuz / 9th of Av


  • First Temple destroyed by Babylonians, 586 BC
  • Second Temple destroyed by Romans, 70 C.E.
  • Expulsion of Jews from Spain, 1942
  • World War I started, precipitating WWII and the Holocaust
  • The first Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto were shipped to the Treblinka extermination center

Visual Timeline of the Roman-Jewish War // Jerusalem ARTchive // Churban Habayit

  • Calibrating the Year of the 2nd Temple's Destruction Maimonides wrote in his Responsa (responsum # 389) that the date in which we traditionally reckon the 2nd Temple's destruction is the year which preceded the 380th year of the Seleucid Era, otherwise known as the Year of Alexander (a date which corresponds to anno69 CE). This means the destruction of the Temple fell out in the month of Av in 68 CE. The dating of 70 CE, on the other hand, is widely used by the Christian world to reckon the year of destruction. This treatise will prove the accuracy of the Jewish tradition.

"The Destruction of the House"
(Churban Habayit)




General Titus Entering the Holy of Holies



Parashat Dvarim/Shabbat Chazon 5764/2004: “The Absence of Jerusalem”

By Rabbi Menachem Creditor 

Tisha Be’Av, the only sad day on the Jewish calendar, the day upon which we commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, is soon upon us. And so we mark this Shabbat as the “Shabbat of Vision” (“Shabbat Chazon”), named for the first verses of the Haftarah in which Isaiah son of Amoz gives voice to a divine vision that loathes the contemporary reality. Isaiah, who lived more than one hundred years before the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 586 BCE, calls out against a community tremendously careful regarding ritual and wantonly careless regarding human morality. As Rabbi Ismar Schorsch writes, “without the latter God found the former utterly repugnant.” 

Tradition tells us that the Second Holy Temple, the Beit HaMikdash, fell in 70 C.E. to the Romans because of Sinat Chinam, free-flowing hatred. This hatred, emblematic of the moral low the Jewish community had reached, led, in theological terms, to God abandoning the Temple and Jerusalem. Interpersonal hurt has serious ramifications, to which even Heaven is vulnerable.  

The Lecha Dodi is full of references to this concept of Jerusalem's abandonment, and on the Friday night of Shabbat Chazon it is therefore traditional to sing Lecha Dodi to a mournful melody, atypical for both the joyous Shabbat and the stirring Lecha Dodi.  

Some Jewish communities use the tune of “Eli Tziyon,” a traditional dirge for Tisha Be’Av. But the melody I’ve learned has no known origin. It manifests for one night and disappears until the next year. 

During my early years at Ramah Nyack, Rabbi Stanley Bramnick traditionally led davenning on the Friday night of Shabbat Chazon. Voiced with depth, the Lecha Dodi that would pour from the front of shul that night somehow conveyed a pervasive sense of absence. And when Rabbi Bramnick ended his tenure at Ramah, I nervously began leading that davenning, using his tune for Lecha Dodi.  

As the first time arrived for me to begin Rabbi Bramnick’s Lecha Dodi, it took me a moment to remember how it went. And once the melody began it became increasingly difficult to continue through my tears. Something within that haunting melody pulled my soul and made me cry like a young child.  

There is something real in that moment of sadness, something that should not be forgotten. Something that defies words.  

Perhaps crying comes closest. 


Think back to a place you’ve felt comfortable. Things are good in that place. The place nurtures you, sustains you. For one day a year, Jews live the absence of that place. And for us, that place is Jerusalem. 

Perhaps the most incredible part of this scheduled absence occurs if you stand in modern Jerusalem on Tisha Be’av. An over-abundance of construction sites, vibrant and colorful streets, and an eclectic collection of residents and tourists going about their business surround you. There is hardly a feeling of desolation, of absence, in the air of modern Jerusalem. 

Hold onto that tension between the destruction of Jerusalem remembered and the vibrancy of Jerusalem lived as you read these words taken from the Lecha Dodi, written by Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz in the mystical city of Tzfat around the year 1529: 

      “Sanctuary of the Ruler, royal city,

      Arise from within the upheaval.

      Too long you have sat in the valley of tears,

      God will grant you Mercy. 

      “Get up! Shake off the dust!

      Dress in your robes of glory my people.

      Through the son of Jesse the Bethelemite,

      Draw near to my soul, set her free! 

      ”Wake up! Wake up!

      For your light has arrived, rise up and shine!

      Awaken! Awaken! Sing a song!

      The Glory of God is revealed upon you!” 

These passionate words reveal that very tension. Where there is an experience of upheaval, tears, dust, and weariness, the Lecha Dodi promises Jerusalem imminent resurrection, glory, and light. Perhaps as we today witness the rebirth of Jerusalem, the Lecha Dodi reminds us of its darker, and perhaps hidden, past lives. While there are moments when we wish God’s Glory would truly reveal itself and complete the wholeness of Jerusalem and our world, true to the messianic dreams of the Lecha Dodi, we know that we are far from the despair of the destruction. 

And so, when we sing the Lecha Dodi this Friday night, we can have two experiences. With eyes open we can witness a thriving Jerusalem, but with eyes closed – and ears and heart open – we might experience an ancient soul-wrenching hope for God’s return to Jerusalem. 

Which message will the Lecha Dodi deliver this Shabbat? It all depends, for me, on which tune is used. 


The Midrash teaches that Jerusalem  is the “belly-button of the world” (Breishit Rabbah 59:5). Though the image sometimes invites light-heartedness, Rabbi David Walk sees this statement as exemplifying the rabbis’ belief that “Jerusalem is where the umbilical cord between heaven and earth is found. Jerusalem is the physical interface with the divine.”  

If you’ve breathed once in Jerusalem you already know. 

But the fascinating part of all this for me is that I’ve never spent Tisha Be’Av in Israel. I’ve either arrived soon after or departed right before Tisha Be’av a few times, but have always experienced the day in the United States, so very far away. 

Rabbi Bramnick’s Lecha Dodi brings me there in a heartbeat. It’s as if my body and Jerusalem develop a direct link, if only for a moment. And standing in my nurturing religious environment, with a direct lifeline to Jerusalem, I am that baby viscerally connected to my source. As God is called “Rachamim,” a word which can be translated as either “Merciful” or “Womblike,” perhaps a holy womblike environment is the best entry point to Tisha Be’Av. 

What does Tisha Be’Av mean? It means that the Jewish umbilical cord is cut. It means that we’ve become detached from our source of nourishment. And for one unsettling day we experience spiritual hunger and the dependence of an infant.  

If we are to understand Tisha Be’Av, we must let the day pull our souls together and remind us that our body’s blood flows through one beating heart whose very name scorches the lips. 



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