When Tisha B’Av Falls on Shabbat

Haas Promenade, Jerusalem, Israel – Photo © Tami Porath, 2016

There are many that will jump to tell you that this year’s commemoration of Tisha B’Av is a nidcheh, pushed off from it’s original date. In truth, 9 Av takes place on Shabbat, a time when we do not fast (unless it’s Yom Kippur) or mourn publicly. So 10 Av is a day every few years that has all the stringencies of the preceding day’s practices of mourning. True, there are leniencies with regard that exist in a year when Tisha B’Av is pushed off, and there are those who will explain that this is a reason for us to, potentially, “temper” our sadness. While I’m not one who usually tells people to wallow in sadness, there is still reason to remain somber on this “nidcheh.”

-First and foremost, most of the Temple itself was consumed by fire on the 10th of Av. It’s for this reason that Rav Yochanan in the Gemara (Taanit 29a) states that had he been around during the establishment of this mournful day, he would’ve fought to institute the fast on the 10th, not the 9th. The rabbis don’t tell Rav Yochanan that he’s mistaken in his approach, but the answer given is that it’s preferable to mark the tragedy on the day it began.

-Second, even with the blessing of the modern state of Israel, we’re still so incomplete without the Beit HaMikdash and what the Messianic era will entail. One of the most meaningful moment’s I’ve spent is Israel is on Tisha B’Av, which I’ve done twice. The first time was on a summer program that took us to the Haas Promenade (the Tayelet) for our reading of Eicha. It was such a moving, meaningful experience that when I ran a trip to Israel seven summers later, I brought my group there to read Eicha. It’s one thing to read the megillah while in an Israeli shul, but it’s another to recite it while actually overlooking the very site where the Temples once stood. You can see the Old City of Jerusalem its modern-day splendor, but the panoramic image is glaringly incomplete. It’s not just the physical structure missing from the landscape that causes us to weep.

-Finally, the Yerushalmi (Yoma 1:1) frighteningly explains that every generation that does not see the Beit HaMikdash rebuilt it’s as if they destroyed it. Many often misinterpret this phrase to teach that it’s as if the Temple was destroyed in one’s lifetime if a new one doesn’t descend from Heaven. What the Yerushalmi actually says is that in any generation in which it’s not rebuilt it’s as if they destroyed it. It’s as if we climbed up to Har HaBayit and laid siege to the holiest space to our people. Not the Romans, Greeks, or anyone else.


There are various differences in explanation, among the Gemara and other Halachic works, of what it will be like when Mashiach ultimately arrives. Whether or not there will be supernatural events happening every day or it won’t be much different than it is now, at the very least it will be a time of peace. A time when the revivification of the dead will take place, where we can see and connect with those dear to us who have passed on.

Tisha B’Av is a nidcheh this year because of Shabbat and the various practices of mourning are applied today. Let’s hope, and do what we can, so that next year Tisha B’Av can be pushed off because it’s no longer a day of mourning, but a day of happiness and celebration.


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