- (Meg. Ta'an., last chapter, Neubauer). The Ninth of av , still observed as the strictest of the four fasts commemorating the destruction of the Temple, is the culmination of a period of nine days of semi-mourning. Connected with it are two special Sabbaths, the one preceding the fast called Shabbat Ḥazon (cf. Isa. ch. 1) and the one following the fast called Shabbat Naḥamu (cf. Isa. 40) after the respective Sabbath haftarah readings. (c) The Fifteenth of av , once a joyous popular festival, the main day of wood offering to the altar (Ta'an. 4:5, 8; Jos., Wars, 2:17). (d) The Eighteenth of Av, once observed as a fast commemorating the quenching of the Eternal Light in the Temple in the reign of King Ahaz (Meg. Ta'an., loc. cit.). Predominantly joyful in Temple times, with the fifth, seventh, tenth, and twentieth of Av as additional festive days of wood offering (Ta'an. 4:5, 8), this month's character became increasingly somber after the Romans' destruction of the Temple and as more and more national catastrophes occurred (or were held to have occurred) in it, with increasing restrictions on sundry expressions of joy, in keeping with the mishnaic ruling "When Av comes in, gladness is diminished" (ibid. 4:6). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Eisenstein, Dinim, 1; Guttmann, Mafte'aḥ, 1 (1906), 70f.; ET, 1 (1947), 9–10. (Ephraim Jehudah Wiesenberg)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.