Tisha B’Av, literally, the Ninth [day of the Hebrew month of] Av, is the Jewish “National Day of Mourning,” so to speak. Tisha B’Av is a day on which, each year, Jews commemorate many of the tragedies which have befell the Jewish People over the centuries.
During Biblical times, those tragedies included:
1. The Biblical account of the Twelve Spies, who reconnoitered Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) before the Jewish People first entered the Land;
2. The destruction, by Nebuchandnezzar during 587 BCE, of First Temple in Jerusalem, which had been built by King Solomon;
3. The destruction, by the Romans during 70 CE, of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, which had been built by Ezra and Nehemiah;
4. The defeat of Bar Kokhba (a Jewish leader who led a revolt against the Romans) and his men and the destruction of the Jewish city of Betar, where more than a half million Jews were murdered; and
5. The plowing under, by the Roman commander Turnus Rufus, of the site where the First and Second Temples had previously stood.
During post-Biblical times, other tragedies which are commemorated on Tisha B’Av included:
1. The destruction of Jewish communities in France and Germany during the First Crusade (1096 CE);
2. The expulsion of Jews from England (1290 CE);
3. The expulsion of Jews from France (1306);
4. The expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492 CE);
5. Germany entered World War I (1914 CE), which eventually led to the Holocaust;
6. The Nazi German SS commander Heinrich Himmler received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution” (1941 CE), which ultimately resulted in the murder of some 6 million Jews;
7. The start of mass deportations of Jews from Warsaw to the Nazi death camp at Treblinka (1942 CE);
8. The bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 and injured 300 (1994 CE); and
9. The relinquishment of sovereign control by the State of Israel over Gaza (2005), which, among other things, resulted in the expulsion — by the Israeli military — of 8,000 Jews who lived in Gush Katif (southern Gaza) and which, to this day, has resulted in Arabs firing rockets from Gaza into Israel.
The first word in Tanach, the Hebrew Bible, is “Bereshit” [translated: “In the beginning”] begins with the letter “bet,” the second letter of the Hebrew “alphabet.” From this, the Rabbis derived that this world, the physical world in which we live, is represented by the number 2.
Jewish Sages and other great Rabbis have also taught that G-d gave Moshe Rabbeinu two Torahs on Mount Sinai: the Written Torah and the Oral Torah.
Both the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, collectively referred to simply as the “Torah,” contain instructions from G-d concerning the conduct of mankind. One category of instructions found in the Torah, a category which might be called the “Torah for individuals,” sets forth instructions relating to individual conduct (e.g., keeping the Sabbath, honoring one’s parents, etc.). The other category of instructions found in the Torah, a category which might be called the “Torah for the Jewish nation,” sets forth instructions relating to national conduct (e.g., laws relating to Eretz Israel, Jewish kings, the law of war, etc.). Contemporary Jewish religious practice focuses almost exclusively on the former, while almost completely ignoring the latter.
Although the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem have become the quintessential example of Jewish tragedy which is commemorated each year on Tisha B’Av, we might also view Tisha B’Av from a slightly deeper perspective.
The Second Temple was destroyed during the year 70 CE. Intrinsic in that tragedy was the loss of Jewish sovereignty, which was not regained until 1948 — almost 2,000 years later — when the modern-day State of Israel was established.
Thus, because one of the two “Torahs” that G-d gave to the Jewish people — the Torah which provides instructions relating to national conduct — was lost for almost 2,000 years, and which has yet to be fully reacquired or realized, it might be appropriate to view Tisha B’Av in a new light. Rather than being seen as a commemoration of seemingly unrelated tragedies that occurred over the centuries, Tisha B’Av might be better understood as commemorating the singular tragedy of the loss of Jewish sovereignty, a tragedy which encompasses and encapsulates all the discrete Jewish tragedies over the centuries, a tragedy which, at least to some meaningful degree, still persists to this day.
May we merit to speedily and fully implement the “Torah for the Jewish nation.”
The Hebrew word “hok” means “decree.” The plural of “hok” is “hukat.” A “hok,” however, is not just any decree, it is a decree from Heaven for which we mortal humans can discern no obvious logical reason or purpose. Commandments which prohibit actions such as murder and theft, for which a logical reason or purpose is obvious, are also “decrees,” but they are decrees of a different type, which do not constitute hukat.
Two hukat are described in the beginning of Parasha Hukat, the first being “tumat hamet” (ritual contamination from a corpse); the second type of hok being “parah adumah,” the “Red Heifer” (purification from that contamination).
After receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, the Jewish People, which had become the nation of “Israel” at Mount Sinai, set off on their journey to the land that the Creator had promised them, the Land of Israel. In order to arrive at their destination, they needed to pass through several kingdoms (countries). The most direct route was through the Kingdom of Edom.
Toward the end of Parasha Hukat, we learn that the King of Edom denied a request by Israel to peaceably pass through his country. Although disappointed, Israel accepted Edom’s refusal to grant their request for passage and looked for an alternative route.
An alternative route was through the Kingdoms of Ammon and Bashan. Israel asked the King of Ammon for permission to peaceably pass through his country. The King of Ammon, like the King of Edom, also denied Israel’s request for passage. But unlike the King of Edom, the King of Ammon used his “military” to attack Israel. Israel defended by going on the offensive and, in so doing, conquered the territory, including the cities and towns, which then constituted the Kingdom of Ammon. The King of Bashan also attacked Israel and was likewise defeated.
After the war, the former lands of Ammon and Bashan became part of the Land of Israel. There was no immediate request that, in exchange for “peace,” Israel return to Ammon and Bashan the land which Israel had captured during the war.
However, some 300 years later, however, Ammon proposed “Land for Peace,” stating that it would once again wage war against Israel if Israel did not “return” to Ammon the land Israel had captured from it in battle. Shoftim (Judges) 11:13, 23-24. Israel refused; Ammon attacked Israel again, and was again defeated in battle.
Thus, we see that the Torah rejects the idea of “Land for Peace.” Exercising full and complete sovereignty over the entirety of the Land of Israel, including lands which Israel has captured in wars which are waged to secure the Land of Israel, is nothing more than the logical extension of a full and complete rejection of the idea of “Land for Peace.”
It is no coincidence that the hukot of tumat hamet and parah adumah are discussed at the beginning of Parasha Hukot and that the foundation is laid toward the end of Parasha Hukot for Israel’s rejection of the idea of “Land for Peace.” Although some may contend that there is no obvious logical reason or purpose for rejecting offers of “Land for Peace,” the Torah clearly teaches otherwise.
On February 26, 2020, the United States designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) three Lebanon-based officials and 12 Lebanon-based entities linked to the Martyrs Foundation, part of Hizballah’s support network.
Download the government press release below.
The Six-Day War, fought between June 5, 1967 through June 10, 1967, which began after Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, resulted in Israel being victorious over Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, all of whom engaged in a coordinated military campaign against Israel.
During the Six-Day War, Israel captured the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula, and Samaria and Judea.
During 1994, Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) entered into a series of agreements known as the Oslo Accords, which resulted in the creation of the Palestinian Authority. Pursuant to the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority was granted limited rights of self-government in the Gaza Strip and certain portions of Samaria and Judea.
The Oslo Accords did not, however, create a Palestinian Arab state.
During September 2000, Palestinian Arabs in the Gaza Strip, and elsewhere, embarked upon a campaign of violence. Known as the “Second Intifada” (the First Intifada having occurred prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords), Palestinian Arabs used suicide bombers and rocket attacks to target Jewish Israeli citizens and the State of Israel.
In 2005, Israel, instead of responding to Palestinian Arab acts of war by repudiating the Oslo Accords and taking decisive military action against the Palestinian Authority and asserting sovereignty over the Gaza Strip, instead implemented a unilateral disengagement plan, which resulted in the eviction of Israeli citizens from their homes in the Gaza Strip and the end of Israeli control of the Gaza Strip. Israel, however, retained exclusive control of the airspace over the Gaza Strip and of the coastal territorial waters west of the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza left the Palestinian Authority with administrative authority — but not sovereignty — over the Gaza Strip.
During 2006 and 2007, there was a conflict between the Palestinian Arab groups Hamas and Fatah. Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by both Israel and the United States (as well as by many other countries), has been the de facto authority in the Gaza Strip since June 2007.
Hamas admits responsibility for rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians, attacks which continue to this day and which are launched from the Gaza Strip. Some rockets have been launched from Palestinian residential areas and mosques.
Israeli cities affected by Palestinian Arab rocket attacks include Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
What other country would relinquish use of a portion of its land to a people who would then use that land to wage war against it? What other country would allow such a people to engage in acts of war against it by launching rockets at its civilian population and its cities? The answer, of course, is few, if any, countries such as Israel, which possesses the military capability to decisively stop such acts of war would ever tolerate this type of a situation for very long, if at all.
Although Israel possesses a military that is clearly superior to that of the insurgencies that are Hamas, Fatah, and the like, Israel, unfortunately, lacks a political system and civilian leadership to put and end to the Palestinian Arab terrorism that no other country would tolerate.
Some say that opposition to the State of Israel, including support for the BDS — Boycott, Divest, Sanctions — movement, is not anti-Semitic. According to this opinion, there is a difference between being “anti-Israel” and being “anti-Semitic.” This opinion is held both by some non-Jews and by some Jews.
According to the web site bdsmovement.net, “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement. . . .” The BDS movement claims that it seeks to apply “nonviolent pressure” on Israel — through boycotts of Israeli businesses, divestment of investments in Israeli’s economy, and the imposition by other governments of sanctions against the State of Israel — all in order to achieve its objectives.
On Friday, August 23, 2019, Rina Shnerb, 17, sustained fatal injuries from an improvised explosive device (IED) that was thrown at Rina; her father Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, 46; and her brother Divir, 19; by Muslim terrorists. The attack occurred while the victims were hiking near Danny’s Spring, also known as Ein Bubin Spring, which is located in a remote area outside of Dolev, in the Binyamin region, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) on a circuitous route north of Jerusalem, Israel.
Rina’s father and brother, who sustained non-fatal injuries, were treated by paramedics, one of whom is related to the Shnerb family, before they were airlifted by helicopter to a hospital.
The Shnerb family is Jewish.
Danny’s Spring, is named after Danny Gonen, 25, who, on June 19, 2015, was murdered in an attack by a Muslim terrorist who shot both Danny and a second victim, who survived.
On August 25, 2019, Israeli press reported that the Muslim terrorist organization Hamas has been working — for over a year — to bring explosives engineers to Judea and Samaria.
On September 28, 2019, Israeli news sources also reported that the following three alleged Muslim terrorists, all of whom are alleged members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), had been arrested for the bombing that resulted in the murder of Rina Shnerb and injuries to Rina’s father and brother.
1. Samar Mina Salim Arabid, 44, an alleged senior PFLP member. Arabid allegedly prepared and activated the explosives that killed Rina and injured her father and brother. It was also reported that Arabid has several prior arrests for his involvement in terror attacks.
2. Qassam Aa Karim Ragah Shabli, 25, an alleged PFLP member. Shabli is alleged to have prepared the explosives and created the bomb that killed Rina. It was also reported that Arabid has several prior arrests for his involvement in terror attacks.
3. Yazin Hassin Hasani Majmas, 25, an alleged PFLP member. Majmas reportedly participated in the planning and execution of the bombing that killed Rina and injured her father and brother. He is also reported to have been arrested in the past for committing “lone-wolf” acts of terrorism.
The Israeli Security Agency said that the trio, led by Arabid, planned to carry out additional terror attacks, including shooting attacks and a kidnaping. It was reported that, during their interrogation of those arrested, the existence and location of another explosive device was disclosed. This device was located and detonated by Israeli security forces.
On October 2, 2019, the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs confirmed an Israeli new report that Sammer Arabid, worked for the Palestinian Authority BDS organization Al-Dameer, which supports and promotes boycotts against the State of Israel, until mid-2017 and that Arabid’s wife Nora has served as the organization’s treasurer for the past two years.
In February 2019, the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs released a report (in English) that revealed more than 100 links between terrorist organizations and BDS. One of the terrorist organizations listed in the report is Al-Dameer.