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Days of National Mourning

The section of the Mishnah entitled "Fast" (Ta'anit) lists a series of fasts that relate to the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. These days of national mourning continued to be honored over the centuries. They were one of the ingredients that helped unify the scattered communities of the Diaspora and helped connect all Jews in a set of shared and poignant memories.


Five things happened to our fathers on the Seventeenth of Tammuz and five on the Ninth of Av.

On the Seventeenth of Tammuz: the tablets [of the Ten Commandments] were broken, the daily offering ceased, the city [walls of Jerusalem] were breached, Apostomus burned the Torah and set up an image in the sanctuary.

On the Ninth of Av: it was decreed that our fathers would not enter the Land of Israel, the Temple was destroyed the first and second times, Betar was captured, and the City [of Jerusalem] was plowed up. When Av comes in, we minimize gladness. . . .

In the week in which the Ninth of Av falls, hair-cutting and clothes-washing are prohibited, but they are permitted on Thursday in honor of the Sabbath. On the eve of the Ninth of Av one may not eat two cooked dishes, eat meat, or drink wine. Rabban Simeon ben Gamliel says: "One most simply make some change." Rabbi Judah requires turning over one's bed, but the Sages do not agree with him.