What Is The 9th of Av All About?
In the Jewish calendar, there are three dawn-to-dusk fast days and one major (25-hour) fast day, all associated with the destruction of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem. Zechariah prophesied that these fast days will eventually become holidays for the Jewish people.
Thus said the lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness, happy festivals for the House of Yehuda; but you must love honesty and integrity.
In a recent interview with Root-Source, Breaking Israel News publisher Rabbi Tuly Weisz suggested that repentance on the part of the Nations is a tool that will eventually transform these fast days to feast days.
The 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, known in Hebrew as Tisha B’Av, which falls each year in July or August, is so associated with the suffering of the Jewish people at the hands of their enemies that it is set aside as the quintessential Jewish day of mourning. It’s most distinctive characteristic is a full 25-hour fast from food and drink.
Tisha B’Av was inaugurated when 10 of the 12 spies Moses dispatched to research the Holy Land came back with an evil report.
Thus they spread calumnies among the Israelites about the land they had scouted, saying, “The country that we traversed and scouted is one that devours its settlers. All the people that we saw in it are men of great size; Numbers 13:32
Tisha B’Av is also the date on which both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. Among other tragic events associated with the date, the Jews were expelled from England on Tisha B’Av in 1290 and from Spain on Tisha B’Av in 1492. On Tisha B’Av in 1914, Germany declared war on Russia, effectively starting World War I.
Christians Repenting On the 9th of Av
Beginning last year and continuing in a dramatically expanded way this year, there is a movement in the Christian world to use Tisha B’Av to repent for the atrocities committed against the Jewish people in the name of Christianity over the past two millennia.
Weisz believes that Christian repentance holds a key to reversing the tragic associations of Tisha B’Av and turning it from a fast day into a feast day for the Jewish people.
“I believe that because these fast days in Jewish history were all brought about by the enemies of the Jewish people, in some way, shape or form, then what will trigger the fast day to become the feast day? It will happen when not only do the Jewish people repent on the 9th of Av, but when non-Jewish people repent as well,” he said in his recent interview.
“Anybody who takes the Bible seriously needs to take the Jewish festivals seriously. And when the non-Jewish world starts to understand that these Biblical holidays are part of the Biblical story, and begins to take the Biblical fast days seriously and to participate in the fast days and to repent on them, in that way God will bring about turning the fast days into feast days,” he explained.
The Nations’ 9th of Av Project Helps Christians Repent
Laura Densmore, one of the coordinators of the Nations’ 9th of Av program, which offers resources to Christians worldwide who would like to connect to the energy of repentance on the 9th of Av, told Breaking Israel News, “As the eyes of those in the Nations finally see and become aware of the many sins committed by our church forefathers, they seek repentance; they are sickened and grieved.”
A central focus of the Nations’ 9th of Av project is a week-long conference in Jerusalem that includes the opportunity to fast alongside the Jewish people and also to listen to a public reading of the Book of Lamentations.
There are other resources available for Christians who who can’t make it to Jerusalem but who nevertheless want to add meaning to the date. The project is sponsoring a round-the-clock conference call in which four national prayer networks are already participating.
According to Densmore, “They will be praying prayers of repentance and using THE LIST: Persecution of Jews By Christians Throughout History as their source document. So now not only will there be those who will be gathered in Jerusalem, but there will be many more gathered throughout the Nations globally, all focusing on prayers of repentance for the sins committed against the Jewish people, all happening on the same day at the same time throughout the Nations.”
Individuals and small groups are also encouraged to host or participate in a local 9th of Av event on that day.
What Does Christian Repentance Look Like?
Densmore elaborated on her own process of repentance. “There are several stages that I have gone through in my own journey in repenting of the sins of my Church forefathers committed against the Jewish people,” she told Breaking Israel News.
“First, I became aware of these sins (that’s where The LIST came in). Then I had to take personal responsibility for them. I began by confessing these sins to the God of Israel and then entreating Him for the forgiveness of these sins.
“Next, the spirit of God began turning my eyes and my heart towards Jerusalem. I turn my heart to embrace ALL of the Word of God, which includes the Hebrew scriptures (the Torah) and I turn my heart to the Jewish people who gave us the Hebrew scriptures (the Torah).
“Then, I begin speaking out against any actions, words, or mindsets that would hurt, harm or undermine the Jewish people and/or the Nation of Israel.
“Finally, I begin taking specific actions or a life work that in some way blesses the Nation and the people of Israel in the hopes that the Jewish people will see the change of heart now being reflected in my changed behavior. These ‘good deeds’ demonstrate that the repentance has moved down from my heart to my feet (in actions and deeds). This sets up an environment for the possibility of walking side by side with the Jewish people in a spirit of love, cooperation and support.”
Shifting The Relationship Between Christians and Jews
Could the prayer and repentance of Christians change anything? Densmore believes it can. “In faith, I believe the God of Israel is going to hear and something will happen. I can’t wait to see what he does. It’s circumcision of the heart. That can be painful.
Then Hashem your God will open up your heart and the hearts of your offspring to love Hashem your God with all your heart and soul, in order that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6
“When you look at the ugliness, all the atrocities, it’s so ugly and it breaks you,” exclaimed Densmore. “It’s worth it to go on that process because on the other side is healing and restoration. My church fathers, we did this. I want to go before God with clean hands,” she emphasized.
Although unable to confirm a direct correlation between the repentance of the Nations and changing the nature of the Biblical fast days to feast days, End Times expert Rabbi Pinchas Winston told Breaking Israel News that these efforts are certainly noteworthy.
“When it comes to Jewish history, sometimes current events may seem like no big deal. They might be too small to notice, or seemingly too insignificant to mean very much to us. So they get passed over, until one day in the future we look back and realize that we had totally undervalued their importance,” he indicated.
“Anyone who knows the Biblical conflict between Jacob and Esau, and its significance at the end of days, should at least raise an eyebrow when learning about ‘descendants’ of Esau who want to apologize to the Jewish people for thousands of years of abuse by the Christian church, the religious arm of Esau. Why, and why now? It’s a big risk on their part to be so bold with anti-Semitism actually on the rise. It’s hard to know what it means, but it is certainly a good sign, it would seem, and refreshing in a world that continuously distorts the truth about the Jewish people,” he conveyed.
Where Winston is circumspect, Weisz is more willing to suggest a connection between non-Jews participating in the 9th of Av and the final redemption. “I pray that this [non-Jewish repentance] becomes the trigger to turn the fast into feast, and [to continue to advance] that spiritual revolution, the redemption of Israel described in Jeremiah, that is now happening.
“I am so moved that there are non-Jewish people who are connecting with the 9th of Av and repenting on the 9th of Av. May God hear all of our prayers, and all of our repentance,” he concluded.