Tisha B'Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av, is a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which coincidentally have occurred on the ninth of Av.
"Tisha B'Av" means the ninth (day) of Av. It usually occurs during late July or early August.
Tisha B'Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; the second by the Romans in 70 C.E.).
Although this holiday is primarily meant to commemorate the destruction of the Temple, it is appropriate to consider on this day the many other tragedies of the Jewish people, many of which occurred on this day, most notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
For many, Tisha B'Av is the culmination of a three week period of increasing mourning, beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, which commemorates the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem, before the First Temple was destroyed. During this three week period, weddings and other parties are customarily not held, and people refrain from cutting their hair; as in the case of the Christian-like ascetic practices during the Counting of the Omer, such practices are really not to be recommended. From the first to the ninth of Av, it is customary to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine (except on the Sabbath) and from wearing new clothing; but neither meat nor wine is actually forbidden until the last meal before the fast, and only freshly-ironed clothes are prohibited to be worn in the days of the week that the fast comes in until the fast has passed.
The restrictions on Tisha B'Av are similar to those on Yom Kippur, starting a little before sunset the day before the fast and continuing until after the stars come out at the end of the fast: to refrain from eating and drinking (even water); washing, bathing, shaving, or wearing cosmetics; wearing leather shoes; engaging in sexual relations; and studying Torah (this last item is permitted on Yom Kippur). Work in the ordinary sense of the word is also restricted. People who are ill need not fast on this day. Many of the traditional mourning practices are observed: people refrain from smiles, laughter, and idle conversation, and sit on low stools. In synagogue, the book of Lamentations is read and mourning prayers are recited.
Tisha B'Av occurs on the following days on the civil calendar:
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