Tonight at sunset begins a somber fast day for the Jewish people.

The 9th of Av (or Ab) on the Hebrew calendar corresponds to a date in July or August. We can see a very clear pattern on the Hebrew calendar: Somebody is out to get the Jewish people and all believers in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.

Tisha B’Av (Hebrew for the 9th of Av) marks the date of numerous calamities for the Jewish people.

The most prominent calamity that Jews memorialize is the destruction of both temples in Jerusalem. In 587 B.C., the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah, destroying Solomon’s Temple over the 9th and 10th of Av.

The second temple existed from 516 B.C. on past Jesus’ earthly ministry. However, eventually the Romans attacked Jerusalem and utterly destroyed this temple on the 10th of Av, 70 A.D.

Coincidentally (?), numerous other calamities for the Jews have also occurred on or around the 9th of Av. A very incomplete list includes: the “evil report” brought back by 10 of the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land by Moses, circa 1447 B.C.; the crushing defeat by the Romans of the Bar Kokhba revolt and the massacre of some 580,000 Jewish civilians in 135 A.D.; and the beginning of the First Crusade in 1095 A.D. with 10,000 Jews killed in the first month alone.

Later, a series of attacks on Jews swept through Europe during the Renaissance. Jews were expelled from: England, the 9th of Av, 1290 A.D.; France, the 10th of Av, 1306 A.D.; and Spain the 7th of Av, 1492 A.D..

In modern times, on the 9th of Av, 1941, Hitler granted approval for Himmler to begin implementation of the Final Solution, leading to the annihilation of 6,000,000 Jews, not to mention millions of other Europeans.

“Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.” I think, actually, that’s an anonymous quote.

An astonishing number of countries and groups have chomped at the bit for the annihilation of the Jews over millennia. What’s more miraculous? The survival of the Jews or the survival of hatred for them?

Satan, the Adversary, wants to destroy God’s plans.

Meanwhile, though, God remains in control. The Israelites were warned what would happen if they broke their side of the covenant. See Deuteronomy 28 to see God’s list of the consequences of Israel’s disobedience.

But their punishment will not endure forever. God is certainly not out to get the Jews. He is, however, out to bring them to repentance. He even uses her enemies to correct Israel.

So it’s appropriate, if not commanded in scripture, to fast on the Ninth of Av, particularly with a focus on how each of us in general, and Israel in particular, have broken God’s loving laws. One day our prayers will be answered, and Israel will be redeemed, living in peace at last.

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Susan Fiedler has served as co-pastor of congregation Beth Shalom. She can be reached at

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