On Tisha b’Av, the ninth of Av, one of the ways that the Jewish people demonstrate their mourning over the loss of both Holy Temples is by refraining from Torah study that brings pleasure to those who study it. Therefore, it is considered appropriate to read only somber texts, specifically:
1) Talmudic sections dealing with the destruction of the Temples, and the laws of mourning and excommunication (such as those found in the Talmud Moed Katan)
2) the Book of Job
3) the admonitions and rebukes of the Book of Jeremiah
4) the Book of Lamentations

Eicha, as Lamentations is called in Hebrew, is actually read publicly during the evening service on the night of Tisha b’Av. The five chapters of Eicha are chanted aloud in a mournful and dolorous tone…so that even those who do not understand the exact words of the text can sense the devastation and despair expressed by the prophet.

Attributed to the Prophet Jeremiah (however, his name is not found in the book confirming his authorship), Eicha contains five poetic laments focusing on the destruction of the First Holy Temple. However, those reading Eicha will also discover hints to the destruction of the Second Temple. The chapters (except for the last) are written using Hebrew alphabet acrostics (each verse starting with another letter of the Hebrew alphabet in sequence).

Tisha b’Av, the fast of the ninth of Av, begins at sundown Saturday night. Click here for more details on Tisha b’Av.

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