According to Jewish tradition, Tisha B’av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar and a fast day commemorating the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, will be transformed into a joyous feast day in the Messianic era. Some rabbis argue that the day for this transformation has arrived and the catalyst for this will be a powerful act of contrition by Christians being held in just a few days.
Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month Av, begins on Wednesday evening and ends on Thursday evening. Coming at the end of a three-week period of austerity, the day commemorating the destruction of both Jewish temples is observed as a day of fasting. The day is also identified with a long list of tragedies that befell the Jewish people including the Biblical spies evil report about the land of Israel, the tragic Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, and even the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290 and Spain in 1492.
A Christian initiative begun three years ago by Bob O’Dell, the founder fo Root Source, attempted to address the long history of difficult relations between Jews and Christians. Last year, this event culminated in a prayer gathering at the Knesset. This year, due to coronavirus restrictions, the event will be held virtually July 29-30.
The event, organized by Al McCarn, Laura Densmore and Steve Wearp, will include a litany of meaningful events including: an online tour of Yad Vashem led by Holocaust survivors and righteous gentiles, a tour of the Temple Mount led by former MK Yehudah Glick, and a tour of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron led by Yishai Fleisher.
The event will begin in the evening with a “Solemn Assembly of Prayer” (5:00 pm Pacific, 6:00 pm Mountain, 7:00 pm Central, 8:00 pm EST.) The recitation of Lamentations will be joined by Rabbi Chaim Eisen. The next day will focus will be on “owning” the history of sins, atrocities, and persecutions done against the Jewish people over the centuries, most notably those done in the name of Jesus. This will be contained in nine hours of live-stream prayer on the Nations’ 9th of Av Youtube channel.
“Pray with us as we lift up our Church forefathers who spoke and acted out against the Jewish people,” the invitation reads. “We will repent of Replacement Theology that has long been prevalent in the Church and that was often the driving force behind the persecutions and atrocities committed against the Jewish people. We will repent for the crusades, the pogroms, the accusations and forced conversions, the blood libels, the inquisition, and the Holocaust, events which, in many instances, were perpetrated and encouraged by Christian leaders in those days.”
“We will come together to repent for the blindness and the antisemitism that is still present in the church today. We will cry out for God’s help in breaking and ending the silence, indifference, and apathy that has plagued the Church for many centuries.”
This will be followed by a week-long Virtual Tour of the Land of Israel (July 30- August 6). The main focus will be to connect deeply with the land of Israel and the people of Israel. The tour will include Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Sderot, the Arugot Ranch in Judea, the Hayovel Base on Mt Gerizim, and Shilo.
Steve Wearp, one of the organizers and the founder of Blessed Buy Israel, emphasized that the event was a Christian event that did not come to replace or mimic the Jewish Ninth of Av.
“One of the goals of the event is to bring Christians to the understanding that the destruction of the Temples was not only a loss for the Jewish people but was a huge loss for the entire world, including the Christians,” Wearp told Breaking Israel News. “The Temple is to be a House of Prayer for all nations. I realized that Christians, as a part of the nations, had to take part in the rebuilding as it was the nations that tore the Temple down.”
“The rabbis say that the Temple was destroyed because of the baseless hatred that existed in Israel at the time. But there has been a baseless hatred that Christianity has had towards the Jewish people. My hope is to replace that with a baseless love that has no agenda, conditions, or strings attached.”
“We are just coming to bless Israel and hopefully to be blessed by God in return,” Wearp said. “We want to come alongside, to lift up the Jewish people to the place God gave them and see God’s house restored for all nations. We need to be part of this.”
Laura Densmore, a co-organizer emphasized that many Christians are entirely unaware of the atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people, many carried out in the name of Jesus.
“Learning about the Christian history of anti-Semitism done in the name of Jesus circumcised and cut my heart,” Densmore said, referring to repentance as described in Leviticus.
Those of you who survive shall be heartsick over their iniquity in the land of your enemies; more, they shall be heartsick over the iniquities of their fathers; and they shall confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, in that they trespassed against Me, yea, were hostile to Me. Leviticus 26:39-40
“I began to see that this was referring to my church,” Densmore said. “I was deeply disturbed to discover that Martin Luther wrote deeply antisemitic teachings. Kristallnacht, [the Night of Broken Glass] was a Nazi pogrom held on the birthday of Martin Luther.”
The list compiled by Ray Montgomery and Bob O’Dell is available for download.
But Judaism emphasizes that within the sadness of Tisha B’Av are planted the seeds of joy that will appear in the Messianic era, as described by the Prophet Zechariah.
Thus said God 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. Zechariah 8:19
Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, one of the most respected Torah scholars of this generation, a prolific writer, winner of the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism, and a member of the nascent Sanhedrin, noted that one of the catalysts that may bring about this end-of-days change in the Ninth of Av might be the Christians fasting. He noted that we are clearly in the days before the Messiah as described by Zechariah in that chapter.
Thus said God of Hosts: There shall yet be old men and women in the squares of Yerushalayim, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the squares of the city shall be crowded with boys and girls playing in the squares. Zechariah 8:4-5
“If you don’t believe this prophecy can happen, has in fact already come about, I suggest you take a bus around Jerusalem,” Rabbi Schwartz said to Breaking Israel News in an interview last Tisha B’Av. He said that it might now be forbidden for Jews to fast on the Ninth of Av. The rabbi cited the Talmud (Tractate Rosh Hashanna 18b) “When the Jews are free and living in their land, it is forbidden to fast.”
More information about the event is available on the website. Christians are also requested to sign a petition acknowledging their desire to turn their hearts away from the history of hatred towards Israel in order to establish a relationship based on love.