Jews around the world are fasting tonight (Saturday) and tomorrow for Tisha B'Av, in honor of the two destroyed Temples and other tragic events that have befallen the Jewish people.
For those in Israel, the fast will end tomorrow evening at 8:09 pm.
Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, has been host to calamities throughout history. The Babylonians destroyed Solomon's Temple in 586 BCE, then the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 66 CE. Sixty-nine years later, the Romans also stamped out the Bar Kochva revolt and ended the final hope for Jewish self-rule until the 20th century.
Later, Jews were forced out of England, France, and Spain on the ninth of Av. Even in recent times the day has held some of the worst moments for the Jewish people. On the ninth of Av in 1941, the Nazis approved their "Final Solution" to kill all the Jews they could. Exactly one year later, on the ninth of Av 1942, the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto began.
In memory of all these tragedies, the Tisha B'Av fast is considered the most serious and saddest fast day in the year. Just as on Yom Kippur, five things are prohibited: eating and drinking, bathing, applying perfumes or oils, wearing leather shoes, and intimate relations.
During Tisha B'Av, all Jews are considered mourners for the Temple and are even instructed not to study Torah, with the exception of certain sad sections that are connected to the day. These include the books of Lamentations and Job, parts of Jeremiah, and sections of the Talmud that discuss the laws of mourning. Furthermore, it is forbidden to sit on normal-sized chairs until the afternoon.
Tonight Jews read the book of Lamentations and dirges from Jeremiah. Many also abstain from wearing tefillin in the morning, only putting it on after the middle of the day.