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Should we Continue to Fast on Tisha B’av and other Fasts which Commemorate the Temple’s Destruction?

 Responsa in a Moment: Volume 4, Issue No. 7, June 2010

Question: In light of the rebirth of the State of Israel and the reunification of Jerusalem, should we continue to fast on Tisha B’av and the other three fasts which commemorate the Destruction of the Temple?  (This is a revised and expanded translation of my responsum which originally appeared in The Responsa of the Va’ad Halakhah of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel 1 (5746), Jerusalem 5746, pp. 29-34, which is also available at All scholars quoted are listed in the Bibliography below).

Responsum:  In order to answer this question, one needs to examine three aspects of Tisha B’av, historical, halakhic and ideological.

I) Historical Considerations
From the historical viewpoint, we need to clarify whether this fast was observed during the Second Temple period. If it was observed during the period of the Second Temple, when the Jewish people dwelt in its own land, it would seem that we also need to fast. If not, this may perhaps serve as a justification for allowing one not to do so. In fact, this very question was already asked of the prophet Zekhariah during the fourth year of the reign of the Emperor Darius, in 518 B.C.E., shortly after the Jews began to return to Israel from the Babylonian exile. A delegation came, evidently from Babylonia,

to address this inquiry to the priests of the House of the Lord and to the prophets: “Shall I weep and practice abstinence in the fifth month, as I have been doing all these years?” (Zekhariah 7:3).

It is clear from the continuation of the question that they were asking not only about Tisha B’av (“the fast of the fifth month”), but about all four fasts related to the Destruction of the First Temple (the 17th of Tammuz, the Fast of Gedaliah and the Tenth of Tevet). The prophet does not give a direct or unequivocal answer to this query. As in the words of Jeremiah to Yehoyakim (Jeremiah 22:13-17) and those of Second Isaiah (Isaiah 58), Zekhariah chastises those who think that fasting atones without returning to the path of justice, truth, and compassion. At the end of his prophecy, he says (8:18-19):

And the word of the Lord of Hosts came to me, saying: “Thus said the Lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness, happy festivals for the House of Judah; but you must love honesty and integrity.

On the basis of these verses, George Foot Moore, Gedalyahu Alon (volume 1, p. 166) and others maintained that the prophet in fact abolished the four fasts. However, Yehezkel Kaufmann’s explanation seems more probable (pp. 267-268; and cf. Rosenthal, pp. 449-450 for a similar explanation):

But it would be an error to think that Zekhariah answers the question of the messengers and issues a halakhic ruling. His words contain no halakhic ruling, neither in 7:5-6 nor in 8:19. The question of the delegation and its discussion merely served as a background to elicit his prophecy… Zekhariah, in responding to the question of the fasts, begins with a true evaluation of this question and explains the true nature of this fateful question: sin, punishment, the requirement of repentance… Zekhariah does not answer the question of the Babylonian delegation at all. [Verses] 18-19 are not a halakhic injunction to abolish the fasts, but an eschatological promise that, if Israel will repent, the fasts will be abolished and transformed into holidays.

What became of these four fasts during the Second Temple period? Is there any concrete evidence concerning this? While there is no evidence regarding the other three fasts, there is clear testimony that the fast of Tisha B’av was indeed observed during the Second Temple period.  (We shall not discuss here the testimony of Josephus because it is open to controversy – see Rosenthal, pp. 451-453 and Albeck). Y. N. Epstein, cited three Talmudic proofs for this assertion:

1)  Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:3:

For six new moons do emissaries go out:  for Nissan because of Passover, for Av because of the fast, for Elul because of Rosh Hashanah, for Tishrei to correct [the dates of] the festivals, for Kislev because of Hanukkah, and for Adar because of Purim. And when the Temple was standing they went out even for Iyyar because of the Lesser Pesah.  (Without the word af  (even), the Mishnah would mean that in the Second Temple period, they went out in Iyar instead of Av – see the Meiri to Rosh Hashanah 18b and Tifereth Yisrael on the Mishnah, ad loc. However, the correct reading here is probably af – see Epstein as well as Rosenthal, p. 454).

In other words, during the Second Temple Period, messengers were sent out even for the Lesser Pesah also known as Pesah Sheni (see Numbers 9:1-13), but for Tisha B’av and the other holidays in the list they were sent out both before and after the Destruction.

2) A beraita found in Yerushalmi Beitza 2:2, fol. 61b = Bavli Ta’anit13a and elsewhere:

All those required to immerse themselves do so in the usual manner on Tisha B’av and on Yom Kippur… R. Hanania the Assistant High Priest said: The [destruction of the] House of our God deserves that the priests should lose one immersion on its account.

The Priests in the Temple used to immerse themselves in a mikvehin order to eat the Terumah in purity. According to Epstein, R. Hananiah lived and died before the Destruction. Thus, we have here a dispute from the period of the Temple itself whether to immerse on Tisha B’av or not. This means that Jews fasted on Tisha B’av in the Second Temple period.

3) Tosefta Ta’anit 3:6, ed. Lieberman, p. 338 and parallels:

  1. Eleazar son of R. Tzadok said: I was among the family of Senoah ben Binyamin [whose wood offering was on the tenthof Av, and hence this day was a festival for them], and Tisha B’av fell on the Sabbath and was postponed until after the Sabbath, and we used to fast but did not complete it.
  2. Eleazar son of R. Tzadok lived both before and after the Destruction. However, most of the stories which he relates occuredbefore the Destruction and the phrase “I was” indicates that he is relating a pre-Destruction episode. Epstein also explains that even though R. Eleazar was a Priest, he joined the wood offering of the Senoah ben Binyamin family.

We can derive from this episode that during the period of the Temple the members of this particular family fasted for half a day when Tisha B’av was moved to the tenth of Av because of Shabbat. But the rest of the Jewish people fasted the entire day on Tisha B’av.

4) One may also add a fourth proof based upon logic. According to Gedalyahu Alon (Vol. 1, p. 166; and cf. Moore who agreed): “Throughout the Second Temple period, these fasts were not observed… After the Destruction of the Second Temple, the Sages restored these fasts”. Rosenthal (p. 458) has already expressed his surprise at this approach: Could it be that Zekhariah abolished the four fasts in 518 B.C.E. and the tannaim renewed them some 600 years later in 70 C. E.? Why do we not hear of such an edict anywhere in  Talmudic literature?! Furthermore, why should thetannaim have reinstated the fasts of the Tenth of Tevet and the Fast of Gedaliah, which have no connection whatsoever with the Destruction of the Second Temple!  (It is worth mentioning that Epstein’s approach is also hinted at in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 1968, Allegro published a hymn from Qumran which he entitled “Lamentations” (John M. Allegro,Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, Vol. V, Oxford, 1968, No. 179, pp. 75-77). Theodor Gaster (The Dead Sea Scriptures, third edition, New York, 1976, pp. 130-131) argues that this is an early elegy because it contains the repeated refrain “oy lanu“, “Woe to us,” as in the medieval kinot for Tisha B’av, and because it draws a great deal upon the Book of Lamentations. Since the archaeological evidence indicates that Qumran was abandoned in 68 C.E., this means that we have here an elegy from the Second Temple period for the Destruction of the First Temple. I would conjecture that this may be an elegy that was sung by the members of the Dead Sea sect on Tisha B’av, and, if so, this is further evidence for the observance of Tisha B’av during the Second Temple period. Cf., however, the more recent article by Noah Hacham who maintains that Yom Kippur is the only fast mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls).

To summarize, it seems clear that, during the Second Temple period, when the Temple stood and a large percentage of the Jewish people dwelt in its own land, the Jewish people continued to fast on Tisha B’av and apparently on the other three fast days instituted in memory of the Destruction of the First Temple.  (Epstein’s opinion is shared by R. Yitzhak Abarbanel in the 15thcentury and by Solomon Zeitlin – see Rosenthal, notes 64 and 68).

II)  Halakhic Considerations
What was the attitude of the leading Sages to the four fasts following the destruction of the Second Temple?

1) In Megillah 5a-b, we read:

Rabbi Eleazar said in the name of Rabbi Hanina:  Rabbi [Judah the Prince] planted a sapling on Purim, and bathed in the market (keronah?) of Zippori on the Seventeenth of Tammuz, and wanted to uproot Tisha B’av, and they [=the Sages] did not agree with him. Rabbi Abba bar Zavda said [to R. Eleazar]: Rabbi, the matter was not thus! Rather, it was on Tisha B’av which fell on Shabbat, and we postponed it till after Shabbat, and Rabbi [Judah the Prince] said: since it was postponed, let it be postponed [i.e. not observed], and the Sages did not agree with him. Regarding [Rabbi Abba], [Rabbi Eleazar] recited the verse, “Two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9).

At first glance, notwithstanding Rabbi Eleazar’s acceptance of Rabbi Abba’s version, one ought to prefer the original tradition of Rabbi Hanina, who was a close disciple of Rabbi Judah the Prince. If this is so, then the latter truly attempted “to uproot Tisha B’av“. However, this tradition is not entirely certain, because we read in the parallel passage in Yerushalmi Megillah 1:1, fol. 70b:

“… Rabbi [Judah the Prince] publicized himself two times a year: He would bathe on the Seventeenth of Tammuz, and plant saplings on Purim.” Thus, in the Talmud Yerushalmi – and the Yerushalmi is considered more accurate regarding events which happened in Eretz Yisrael – there is no mention of Tisha B’av at all.

However, even if we accept Rabbi Hanina’s statement at face value, there are two points that require emphasis. First, Rabbi Judah the Prince sought to change the halakhah, but the Sages “did not agree with him”. Evidently, the other Sages thought that the time had not yet come to abolish Tisha B’av. Second, Urbach (and cf. Alon, Vol. 2, p. 117) has emphasized that during the days of Rabbi Judah the Prince there was a messianic atmosphere in his court. They applied to him the verse, “The breath of our life, the Lord’s anointed” (Eikhah 4:20, quoted in Yerushalmi ShabbatChapter 16, fol. 15c). Moreover, as a sign of the sanctification of the new moon, Rabbi Judah the Prince chose the slogan, “David King of Israel lives” (Rosh Hashanah 25a). Finally, Rabbi Judah the Prince may have viewed himself as the King of the Jewish people (see Horayot 11b). As a result of this Messianic mood, Rabbi Judah the Prince may have tried to abolish Tisha B’av, but the Sages of his time “did not agree with him”, because they did not believe that the peaceful conditions would continue, and of course, in retrospect, they were correct. (For completely different explanations of this attempt of Rabbi Judah the Prince, see Weiss and Dov Herman, p. 147).

2) On the other hand, we find a number of tannaim who greatly emphasized the importance of Tisha B’av. We have learned inTa’anit 30b: “Another beraita: Rabban Simeon b. Gamliel says: Whoever eats and drinks on Tisha B’av is as if he eats and drinks on Yom Kippur.” Similarly, in Pesahim 54b, we have learned in aberaita: “There is no difference between Tisha B’av and Yom Kippur save that in the [latter] case its doubt is forbidden and in the other it is permitted” (see the talmudic passage and Rabbeinu Hananel ad loc. re. the phrase “its doubt”).

3) On the other hand, in the Land of Israel at the beginning of the amoraic period, there was at least one Sage who was lenient regarding the Seventeenth of Tammuz. In Ta’aniyot 4:8, fol. 68d we read:

… For what reason did they not establish it [i.e,. the 17th of Tammuz – this is the reading in Ms. Leiden and in Seridei Yerushalmi, p. 183] as a fast? Hinena the father of Bar Yente said in the name of Rabbi Benaya: Because the majority of the public did not accept it upon themselves.

4) Two of the tendencies mentioned above also found expression in Babylonia at the beginning of the amoraic period. There they were very strict about the laws of Tisha B’av, while apparently being lenient regarding the other fasts. This is implied by the words of Samuel (according to Ta’anit 12b and Pesahim 54b) and of R. Yirmiya bar Abba (according to Ta’anit 11b): “There are no public fast days in Babylonia save for Tisha B’av alone.” While in Pesahim(ibid.) we read: “Rava expounded: Pregnant women and nursing women fast and complete their fast on it [Tisha B’av], just as they fast and complete their fast on Yom Kippur…”

If we summarize our findings thus far, we may state that Rabbi Judah the Prince and Rabbi Benaya were lenient regarding the 17th of Tammuz and Rabbi Judah the Prince apparently even sought to uproot Tisha B’av. Yet the other tannaim and amoraimmentioned above were strict regarding the laws of Tisha B’av.

5) However, the main source about our topic, which shaped the halakhah until today, is Rosh Hashanah 18b, where the Talmud discusses the same Mishnah which we cited earlier (Section I, 1). All authorities dealing with our question have ruled on its basis, and we too need to decide the halakhah according to it:

Let them also go out for Tammuz and Tevet?  [i.e., Why do the messengers of the new moon not go out for Tammuz and Tevet so that they may fast in the Diaspora on the correct dates?] For  Rav Hanna bar Bizna said in the name of Rabbi Shimon Hasida: What is meant by the verse (Zekhariah 8:19):  “Thus said the Lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness for the House of Judah.” – It is called “fast” and it is called “joy and gladness” – when there is peace, they shall be days of “joy and gladness”, when there is no peace, they shall be a “fast”. [i.e., at the present time there is no peace and hence there is an obligation to fast on the four fasts; and therefore we are obligated to send messengers for Tammuz and Tevet as well?]

Said Rav Pappa: The verse is saying: When there is peace, “they shall become occasions for joy and gladness”. When there is persecution [shemad, thus in all the manuscripts], “fast”. If there is neither persecution nor peace – if they wished, they fast; if they wished, they need not fast.”

If so, [should this not apply to] Tisha B’av as well [that if they wished, they fast; if not, they do not fast]?

Said Rav Pappa: Tisha B’av is different, since troubles were multipled therein, as a Sage said [in Mishnah Ta’anit 4:6], “OnTisha B’av the Temple was destroyed both the first and second time, and Betar was captured, and the city [of Jerusalem] was plowed under”.

This Talmudic passage states that there are only three options from a halakhic point of view. If we are living in an age of “peace,” we are required to rejoice on these four fasts. If it is a time of “persecution,” we must fast on all four days. Finally, if it is an age of “neither persecution nor peace”, we are required to fast on Tisha B’av, while regarding the other three fasts, “if they wished, they fast; if they wished, they need not fast.”

The two major approaches to the words of Rav Pappa among the medieval halakhic authorities have been summarized by Profs. A. S. Rosenthal and Daniel Sperber. All authorities thought that in their days “there is neither persecution nor peace.” Consequently, they agreed that Tisha B’av is obligatory and only disagreed regarding the other fasts. The Sephardic Sages ruled like Nahmanides (Torat Ha’adam, ed. Chavel, p. 243): “And now they have already wished [to fast], and were accustomed to fast and accepted it upon themselves; therefore it is forbidden for the individual to violate this rule.” He ruled thus in wake of Rabbi Judah al-Barceloni (quoted in Sefer Ha’eshkol, ed. Albeck, Part 2, pp. 181-182) and Rabbi Yitzhak ibn Giyyat (quoted in Hagahot Rabbeinu Peretz to the Semak, parag. 96) and his ruling was accepted by Rabbi Jacob ben Asher (Tur Orah Hayyim 550), Rabbi Shimon bar Zemah Duran (Tashbetz. Part 2, No. 271 = I. Schepansky, Eretz Yisrael B’sifrut Hateshuvot, Vol. 1, Jerusalem, 1966, pp. 290-292) and Rabbi Yosef Karo (Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 550:1). This was also the opinion of Rabbi Efraim of Bonn in Germany (E. E. Urbach, Arugat Habosem, Vol. 4, Jerusalem, 1963, p. 42, note 8).

On the other hand, a lenient approach is reflected in the following geonic responsum (Ginzei Kedem, Volume 3, [1925], pp. 42-43 =Otzar Hage’onimRosh Hashanah, Hateshuvot, p. 32, parag. 34):

In our age, in these generations, when there is neither persecution nor peace, if they wished, they fast, if they did not wish, they do not fast… Therefore, [on these] three fasts, if there is one who does not wish to fast, it is nothing, and he is not obligated therein. But on Tisha B’av, since [troubles] were multiplied therein, he is required to fast and to afflict himself, and to behave therein as he does on Yom Kippur, for our Sages said (Pesahim 54b): “Rava expounded: Pregnant women and nursing women fast and complete their fast on [Tisha B’av], just as they fast and complete their fast on Yom Kippur…”

A similar lenient approach is found in a responsum of the Gaon Rav Kohen Zedek (Shibolei Haleket Hashalem, parag. 278 = Otzar Hageonim to Rosh Hashanah, Hateshuvot, p. 33, parag. 35) and in an anonymous responsum of the Geonim (quoted in Sefer Ha’eshkol, ed. Albeck, Part 2, p. 181). It was also the approach of Rabbeinu Hananel (to Rosh Hashanah 18b), Rabbi Shlomo ben Adret (Hidushei Harashba to Rosh Hashanah 18b, ed. Dimitrovsky, p. 79), Orhot Hayyim (Hilkhot Ta’anit, parag. 18, ed. Jerusalem, 1956, p. 209a), and Rabbeinu Nissim Gerondi (in his Hiddushim toRosh Hashanah 18b and to the Rif on Rosh Hashanah 18b, s.v.V’d’amrinan).

III) Ideological Considerations
There now remains the task of examining the ideological aspects of Tisha B’av. In light of all of the above, it is clear that the option of fasting half a day on Tisha B’av does not exist. If we have indeed arrived at the age of “peace,” we must abolish the four fasts in their entirety and convert them into days of “joy and gladness”. We must therefore ask: have we reached the days of “peace”? Most of theRishonim (ca. 1000-1500 c.e.) thought that the days of “peace” refer to an age when the Temple exists. Even if we have proved that historically Tisha B’av was observed during the Second Temple period (see above, section I), from the halakhic point of view today we do not live in an age of “peace” and according to most of the Rishonim it is forbidden for us to abolish Tisha B’av until the Temple will be rebuilt.

However, Rashi and the Meiri on the above passage in Rosh Hashanah interpreted “peace” differently – namely, as a period when “when the hand of the gentiles is not strong against Israel”. According to this, one may argue that “peace” means an independent State of Israel. However, in my opinion it is impossible to accept such an interpretation, for several reasons:

1) Rashi and the Meiri are a small minority.  The great majority of halakhic authorities and exegetes interpret “peace” as referring to the age when the Temple stands (see Rosenthal, pp. 455-456 who lists ten Rishonim; Karlinski, and Gershuni for a summary of the various approaches). According to them, today is not an age of “peace”.

2) Even according to Rashi and the Meiri, is “the hand of the of the gentiles not strong against Israel”? Is Israel not under constant political and/or military pressure from Iran, Hizbolah, Hamas, the Palestinians, Turkey, most Muslim countries and most of the nations in the world?

3) We also need to examine the simple meaning of the words of Zekhariah and Rav Pappa, without all of the exegesis they have been given. Is there “peace” in our generation in the Land of Israel? We have a State, but have we enjoyed one moment of real peace since its establishment? We have fought seven wars in the course of 62 years and we continue to fight terrorists in Israel, Gaza and Lebanon. Every year, innocent Jews are killed by terrorists – is this the “peace” promised by the Prophet?

4) There are those who argue that we ought to downplay the importance of Tisha B’av since, in any event, they are not interested in the rebuilding of the Temple and the restoration of the sacrificial cult. However, this is only one aspect of Tisha B’av. On Tisha B’av we do not only bemoan the Destruction of the Temple, but also pray for redemption, in accordance with the midrash (Yerushalmi Berakhot 2:4. fol. 5a = Eikhah Rabbah, Parashah 1, ed. Buber, pp. 89-90 = Esther Rabbah, ed. Vilna, fol. 2d) that the Messiah was born on the day that the Temple was destroyed. We have been privileged in our generation to witness the beginning of the Redemption, and therefore we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut(Israel Independence Day), but the Redemption has not yet been completed, and hence we must also fast on Tisha B’av.

IV) Conclusions
1) From the historical perspective, we have demonstrated that Tisha B’av was observed even during the days of the Second Temple. If this was so when the Temple was standing, when on the face of it there was no reason to fast, how much more so ought we to fast today.

2) Some rabbis have suggested that we break our fast on Tisha B’av after Minhah (see Rabbi Friedman). From the halakhic standpoint, this is not an option.  As we have seen, one needs to fast on all four fasts, or on Tisha B’av alone, or to abolish all of these fast days and turn them into occasions of “joy and gladness”. True, there is a tendency to view the hour of Minhah on Tisha B’avas a time of comfort. This approach influenced customs relating to prayer, tefillin, and tallit (see Rabbi Friedman, par. 6 and Zimmer). However, there is not a single halakhic authority who permitseating after Minhah, as even nursing mothers and pregnant women are required to complete their fast (Pesahim 54b, Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 554:5, and the Rema, ibid., 550:1).  (The only one to mention such a custom is Rabbi Menahem Hameiri, in Bet Habehirah to Ta’anit, p. 109: “Women were accustomed during the days of the geonim and the rabbis to shampoo their hair [on Tisha B’av] from Minhah onwards, and the Sages did not protest; morever, they were given a meal to eat, because it is a time of comfort… and this thing is not fitting.” In other words, there was such a custom among the women of thirteenth-century Provence, but the Meiri opposed it. Morever, Ya’akov Gartner has shown (Sinai 89 [5741], pp. 157-164) that this rare custom, as well as many other customs relating to Minhah as a “time of consolation,” derived specifically from the influence of the Karaite Mourners of Zion in Jerusalem, and have no Talmudic or halakhic basis).

3) From an ideological perspective, one cannot say that we have reached the age of “peace”,  since there is no Temple, “the hand of the of the gentiles is still strong against Israel” and, above all, there is not yet true peace in the Land of Israel.

4) What should we do? We should fast all day on Tisha B’av, while ruling that the other three fasts are optional. This is the approach of Rav Pappa in Rosh Hashanah 18b as codified by the Geonimand Rishonim (above, Section II, 5) who ruled according to the simple meaning of the Talmudic passage. By so doing, we acknowledge the miracles of the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 and the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 by downplaying the three fast days, while indicating that we are still far from peace by fasting on Tisha B’av.

It is worth noting that this was the conclusion of the Halakhah Committee of Hatenuah L’yahadut Shel Torah (The Movement for a Judaism of Torah), a group of modern-Orthodox academics which arose after the Six-Day War. This committee, led by Rabbi A. S. Rosenthal, a well-known rabbi and Talmud scholar, ruled that “there is no requirement to observe the three fast days” but “we do not have permission to take the lead” since we are a small group. He said: We must appeal, interpret, write and say that the Chief Rabbinate should abolish these public fasts. Some of their group continued to observe the three fasts while others did not. (A.S. Rosenthal, pp. 23-24 and cf. Herr; Lau; Lau and Golinkin).

It is also interesting to note that Dr. Dov Rappel, a well-known modern-Orthodox scholar in Israel and a member of Kibbutz Yavneh, published a brief article in 1996 in which he stated that he and the majority of “our public” has not fasted on the 17th of Tammuz since the Six Day War.  He suggested that in order to remember the historical significance of this fast day, the Selihot for the 17th of Tammuz should be read at Shaharit and only a modest lunch should be served on that day (see Rappel).

5) Finally, it is worth noting what three Jewish leaders had to say about the importance of Tisha B’av:

Maimonides (Hilkhot Ta’anit 5:1) said that we fast on these four fast  days in order to arouse the hearts to repent and to remember our evil deeds and the evil deeds of our ancestors which caused the troubles which befell us.

The Zionist leader Berl Katznelson (1887-1944)  wrote that if the Jewish people had not known how to mourn for generations on Tisha B’av just as it mourns for a close relative, there would not have arisen Zionist leaders such as Hess and Pinsker, Herzl and Nordau, Sirkin and Borochov, Gordon and Brenner. Yehudah Halevi would not have been able to create “Tziyon, halo tishali” and Bialik would not have been able to write “Megillat Ha’esh”. (quoted by Mazor, p. 170)

Prof. Ismar Schorsch wrote in 1987 (pp. 5-6) that

Yom Kippur and Tisha B’av are tandem… Whereas Yom Kippur is set aside for for self-reflection, Tisha B’av is dedicated to pondering the nation’s destiny. At the dawn of a new year, we are induced to contract into a state of self-absorption; as the year draws to a close our attention is riveted on the history of our people.. God and Israel are the two reference points which guide the religious behavior of the individual Jew. To remove Tisha B’av from the liturgical structure is to accentuate the pursuit of personal salvation and to disrupt the carefully crafted equilibrium between individual need and group primacy…

May it be God’s will that, just as we have merited to see the beginning of the Redemption, so may we merit to see the complete Redemption. May there be fulfilled in our days the words of the prophet: “Thus said the Lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness, happy festivals for the House of Judah; but you must love honesty and integrity.”

David Golinkin
Jerusalem the Holy City
16 Tammuz 5770


 Ahituv – Yoske Ahituv, De’ot 22 (Tammuz 5765), pp. 6-8

Albeck – Hanokh Albeck, Shishah Sidrey Mishnah, Volume 2, p. 487

Alon – Gedalyahu Alon, Toledot Hayehudim B’eretz Yisrael Bitekufat Hamishnah V’hatalmud, 2 volumes, Tel Aviv, 1967

Amir – R. Yehoyada Amir, Eit La’asot 3 (Summer 5751), pp. 55-69

Azari and Mazor – R. Meir Azari and R. Yehoram Mazor in: R. Yehoram Mazor, ed., Hag Umoed B’mahshevet Hayahadut Hamitkademet, 5748, pp. 94-100

Ben-Horim – Nahum Ben-Horim, Bitzaron 19 (5709), pp. 58-59

Chipman – R. Jonathan Chipman, In Jerusalem, July 18, 1997, p. 7

Cohen – Yitzhak Yosef Cohen, Mekorot V’korot, Jerusalem, 5742, pp. 170-174

David – R. Shmuel David, Barkai 3 (5746), pp. 86-93

Epstein – Y. N. Epstein, Mavo L’nusah Hamishnah, Jerusalem, 1948, pp. 1012-1014

Friedman – R. Tuvia Friedman, Teshuvot Va’ad Hahalakhah Shel Knesset Harabanim B’yisrael 1 (5746), pp. 23-28; also available with an English summary at

Gershuni – R. Yehuda Gershuni, Or Hamizrah 6 (1959), pp. 15-20

Hacham – Noah Hacham, Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, Vol. 37, Leiden, 2001, pp. 127-145

Halevi – R. Hayyim David Halevi, Aseh Lekha Rav, Part 1, No. 13

Herman – Dov Herman, Assufot 8 (5754), pp. 137-147

Herr – M. D. Herr, Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 6, col. 1195

Jacobs – R. Louis Jacobs, “Ask the Rabbi”, Jewish Chronicle, Friday, July 31, 1987 (a summary of Golinkin and Friedman)

Karlinski – R. Hayyim Karlinksi, Or Hamizrah 16 (1968), pp. 184-191

Katz – R. Shmuel Katz, Tehumin 18 (5758), p. 486

Kaufmann – Yehezkel Kaufmann, Toledot Ha’emunah Hayisraelit, Volume IV, Book 1, Jerusalem, 1972, pp. 266-268

Kavon – Eli Kavon, The Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2007, p. 13

Lamm – R. Nahum Lamm, Hadarom 23 (5726), pp. 213-214 =Halakhot V’halikhot, Jerusalem, 5750, pp. 190-191

Lau – R. Benny Lau, “Hadiyun al Bitul Hatzomot“, Beit Morashah, 17 Tammuz 5765, 4 pp.

Lau and Golinkin – R. Benny Lau, De’ot 6 (Tevet 5760), pp. 24-25 and the reaction of David Golinkin, De’ot 7 (Nissan 5760), p. 37

Levine – David Levine, Ta’aniyot Tzibbur B’sifrut Hatalmud, Ph.D. dissertation, Hebrew University, 5758, Chapter 7

Mann – Nir Mann, Amudim 642 (Av 5760), pp. 4-5

Marcus – Itamar Marcus, In Jerusalem, July 31, 1998, p. 11

Mazor – R. Yehoram Mazor, Mehkirei Hag 2 (Adar 5750), pp. 170-176

Moore – George Foot Moore, Judaism in the First Century of the Christian Era, Vol. II, New York, 1971, pp. 65-66

Rappel – Dov Rappel, Mibayit, June 21, 1996

Raven – Mark Raven, “Debemos Llorar en Tisha B’av?” Davar: Revista Literaria, No. 59 (July-August 1955), pp. 73-83 (Spanish)

Rosenthal – Judah Rosenthal, The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Volume of the Jewish Quarterly Review, Philadelphia, 1967, pp. 446-459

Rosenthal, A.S. – A, S. Rosenthal,  Mehalkhim 4 (Marheshvan 5731), pp. 21-24

Rosenthal, Yehudah – Yehudah Rosenthal, Bitzaron 18 (5708), p. 269

Schauss – Hayyim Schauss, The Jewish Festivals, New York, 1962, pp. 99-100

Schorsch – Ismar Schorsch, “Tisha B’av Reconsidered”,Conservative Judaism 39/4 (Summer 1987), pp. 5-6 = Thoughts from 3080, New York, 1987, pp. 71-72 and reaction by R. Jacob Chinitz, CJ 40/2 (Winter 1987-1988), p. 107

Shahar – Yuval Shahar, Zion 68/2 (5763), pp. 145-165

Sperber – R. Daniel Sperber, Bar Ilan 20-21 (5743), pp. 145-150 =Minhagei Yisrael, Vol. 1, Jerusalem, 5749, Chapter 24 with additions in Vol. 4, Jerusalem, 5755, pp. 248-249

Tabori – Yosef Tabori, Mo’adei Yisrael Bitkufat Hamishnah V’hatalmud, Jerusalem, 5755, pp. 396-407

Tucker – Naftali Tucker, Mehkirei Hag 4 (Iyar 5752), pp. 57-72

Urbach – E. E. Urbach, Hazal;  Pirkei Emunot V’de’ot, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 609

Weiss – Isaac Hirsch Weiss, Dor Dor V’dorshav, Part II, 1904, p. 161

Yedid – R. Yosef Yedid, quoted by R. Ovadiah Yosef in Yabia Omer, Part 2, Orah Hayyim, No. 28, p. 105

Zimmer – Yitzhak Zimmer, Olam K’minhago Noheig, Jerusalem, 1996, pp. 174-190

Photo Credit: kathmanduphoto

All four volumes of Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin’s Responsa In A Moment – Halakhic Responses to Contemporary Issues as well as other books by the author are available for purchase from the Schocken-JTS Press Bookstore.

David Golinkin is President of The Schechter Institutes, Inc. and President Emeritus of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. For twenty years he served as Chair of the Va’ad Halakhah (Law Committee) of the Rabbinical Assembly which gives halakhic guidance to the Masorti Movement in Israel. He is the founder and director of the Institute of Applied Halakhah at Schechter and also directs the Center for Women in Jewish Law. Rabbi Professor Golinkin made aliyah in 1972, earning a BA in Jewish History and two teaching certificates from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He received an MA in Rabbinics and a PhD in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he was also ordained as Rabbi. For a complete bio click here.

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