It is most telling, not only about how long a religion has been around but how much its believers have been historically persecuted, when tragedy seems repeatedly to befall it on the same calendar day throughout its existence. Known as the “9th Day of Av,” it is considered the saddest day of each year for Judaism and a day always destined for tragedy.
Judaism commemorates the 9th Day of Av with a day of fasting. The date is based on the Hebrew calendar and, as such, falls on different dates of the Western calendar. This year, it is observed from nightfall on July 21 through nightfall on July 22.
While Judaism is not the oldest world religion, it is the foundation for all other Abrahamic religions. It can also claim the title of being the oldest monotheism still practiced today.
The suffering that has plagued the Jewish people on one common date seems endless. For example, what today is known as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, built by the Jews, was destroyed on this date in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. This resulted in the massacre of 100,000 Jews and a massive national exile. The destruction of the First Temple led to the Jews rebuilding it later in that century. The rebuild, known as the Second Temple, also was subsequently destroyed, on the exact same date as the First – only 655 years later, at the hands of Titus of Rome.
Former Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger notes some of the other calamities befalling the Jews on the same date: the execution of ten of their leading rabbis by the Roman Empire, the defeat of the Bar Kokhbah Revolt by Roman Emperor Adrianus, the massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Europe during the pogroms of the First Crusade (1096-1099), the Jewish expulsion from Britain (1290) and from Spain (1492), the start of World War I (1914) and the start of deportations of Warsaw Ghetto Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp (1942).
The burden of persecution and suffering the Jewish people have historically endured shows no signs of being alleviated in a 21st century world. While they have suffered and survived the most brutal of pogroms and the Nazi Holocaust, they are now fleeing Europe from places like France in record numbers, fearing how far an increasing Muslim immigrant population will take its anti-Semitic ideology.
Rarely will Friday prayers at a mosque in a Western country not include denigration of the Jews. Several imams in U.S. mosques have spewed forth such hatred as well. Often quoted by them is the infamous hadith of the fate to befall all Jews on the Day of Judgment:
“The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.”
– Sahih Muslim, 41:6985
As outrageous and ludicrous as this teaching is, Muslims are encouraged to believe even the trees and stones will ally with them to eradicate the Jews on Judgment Day.
One would hope, at least in America today, Jews could find safe harbor, free from persecution. Yet the FBI reports they, and not Muslims who doggedly seek to claim mass victimization, are repeatedly the single largest victim group of hate crimes in the U.S. (A 2015 FBI report indicates while only 16 percent of hate crimes targeted Muslims, a whopping 58 percent targeted Jews.)
Deuteronomy 7:6 in the Bible reveals of Jews, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” As the 9th Day of Av shows us, the Jewish people certainly have paid a high price, and sadly continue to pay a high price, for being so chosen.