In the Month of Av We Curtail Joy

In the first chapter of Devarim, the story of the Meraglim (spies) and the fact that they were hesitant to inherit the Land of Israel is summarized.

The Gemara in Taanit 29a recounts: Rabbah said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: The meraglim returned from their forty day tour and spoke Lashon HaRa (slander) about the Land of Israel on the 8th of Av and the Jewish people cried in the evening, the ninth of Av as it says in Bamidbar 14:1 "And all of the congregation raised their voices and cried out, and the people wept on that night". God said, you cried without a cause, therefore I will establish for you a weeping for generations on this day.

The other calamities that are recounted in the Gemara which occurred on the ninth of Av (Tisha B'Av) are: the first and second temples were destroyed (586 BCE and 70 CE), the city of Betar was conquered and the city of Jerusalem was plowed under.

The expulsion from Spain in 1492 took place on the Ninth of Av as well.

The Gemara in Taanit continues: Rav Yehudah the son of Rav Shmuel Bar Shilat said in the name of Rav: Just as when the month of Av comes we curtail joy, so too when the month of Adar begins we increase joy.

This year, the month of Av is an extremely difficult month for the Jewish people. With the clouds of war upon us we hope and pray that God spares us through these trying times and that we will be victorious.

Am Yisrael Chai!