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Because of this our hearts are sick,
Because of this our eyes are dimmed:
For Mount Zion,
Which lies desolate.
Jackals walk on it.

You God, are enthroned forever;
Your throne is from generation to generation.

Why have you eternally forgotten us?
You have forsaken us for endless days.

Return us God, to You
And we will return.

Renew our days, like the olden times.

You have totally rejected us;
Bitterly raged against us.

Return us God, to You
And we will return.

Renew our days, like the olden times.

Lamentations 5:17-22

~~~

20 July in History

In 1263, Pablo Christiani, a converted Jew, and Raymond of Penaforte, compelled King James of Aragon to force a debate between him and Moses ben Nachman (Nachmanides). The Jews were afraid that no matter what the outcome they would lose, so they pleaded with Nachmanides to withdraw. The King ordered him to continue. Although the outcome was preset (the Christians “won”), the King was so impressed that he rewarded Nachmanides with a present of 300 maravedis. Pablo was given permission to continue these debates throughout Aragon with the Jews having to pay his expenses. Two years later Nachmanides was convicted for publishing his side of the debate. Although he was not severely punished by the King, he decided to leave Spain for good and settled in Eretz-Israel.

9 Av in History

On the Ninth of Av of the year 2449 from creation (1312 BCE), the generation of Jews who came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership 16 months earlier were condemned to die in the desert and the entry into the Land of Israel was delayed for 40 years.

As related in Numbers 14, when the Spies that Moses sent to the Land of Canaan returned with their disheartening report (see “Today in Jewish History” for yesterday, Av 8), the people wept all night — the night of Av 9th — proclaiming that they’d rather return to Egypt than attempt to conquer and settle it; G-d decreed that the entire generation will wander in the desert for 40 years until that last of them died out, and that their children, under the leadership of Joshua, will enter the land He promised as Israel’s heritage.

This is the first of five national tragedies that occurred on Av 9 listed by the Talmud (Taanit 4:6), due to which the day was designated as a fast day. The other four are: the destruction of the two Temples, the fall of Betar, and the plowing over of Jerusalem.

Both the first and second Holy Temples which stood in Jerusalem were destroyed on Av 9: the First Temple by the Babylonians in the year 3338 from creation (423 BCE), and the second by the Romans in 3829 (69 CE).

The Temples’ destruction represents the greatest tragedy in Jewish history, for it marks our descent into Galut–the state of physical exile and spiritual displacement in which we still find ourselves today. Thus the Destruction is mourned as a tragedy that affects our lives today, 2,000 years later, no less than the very generation that experienced it first hand.

Betar, the last stronghold in the heroic Bar Kochba rebellion, fell to the Romans on the 9th of Av of the year 3893 (133 CE) after a three-year siege. 580,000 Jews died by starvation or the sword, including Bar Kochba, the leader of the rebellion/

The Jews of England were expelled by King Edward I on this date in 1290.

The Jews of Spain were expelled by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella on the 9th of Av of 1492, terminating many centuries of flourishing Jewish life in that country.

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