The Talmud (ta’anit 29a) explains that the Babylonians captured the Temple on the Seventh of Ab and on the Ninth, after desecrating and ransacking all its material valuables, they set the Sanctuary ablaze on the afternoon of the Ninth of Ab . The Sanctuary (hekhal) continued to burn for a whole day, until the evening of the 10th of Ab.
Because of this Rabbi Yohanan declared that had he been alive at the time of the destruction of the First Bet haMiqdash (586 BCE) he would have declared the fast on the Tenth of Ab, rather than the Ninth. He felt that the main mourning should be on the day that the Bet haMiqdash was actually destroyed rather than on the day that the tragedy began. Jewish practice, however, did not follow Rabbi Yohanan’s view and the Rabbis established that the main observance of mourning is on the Ninth, when the destruction began.
Nevertheless, during the Tenth of Ab (today) we still observe some customs of mourning.
The shulhan ‘arukh (558:1) mentions that it is customary to avoid eating meat during the night and the day of the Tenth of Ab. According to other opinions this restrictions applies only until midday (hatzot, in NYC 1:01pm today), and this is the prevalent practice among most Sephardim and Ashkenazim.
Even thought our mourning for the Bet haMiqdash ends after the 9th of Ab our Rabbis mentioned a few traditions to be kept year-round as a permanent reminder of the destruction of our Temple (zekher lachurban).
The first custom mentioned by the Shulhan ‘arukh (560:1) is that when a Jewish family builds its house they should leave at the entrance of the house, in front of the entrance door, an unfinished and unpainted square on the wall (roughly, 1.5ft by 1.5ft) to remember Yerushalayim.
(To be continued B’H tomorrow)
(and the invisible Gorilla)
It’s not easy to have the humility to say we don’t know
by Yvette Alt Miller, from Aish