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Prayer on the Ninth Day of Aḇ תשעה באב the anniversary of the destruction of Jerusalem, by Marcus Heinrich Bresslau (1852)


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Judge of all the world; Thou art truth and justice, and so are Thy judgments upon the children of men. This day is a day of Mourning, a day of painful remembrances. For what human mind is capable of conceiving the sublime happiness of a people living in a faithful country, free and independent; what person who has ever read of the magnificence of the Holy Temple at Jerusalem with its glorious Service, elevating the heart and exalting the mind;—what Israelite can remain unmoved this day by the recollection of the destruction of all this splendour and Glory? Must not his heart be overwhelmed with deep sorrow and sadness? But “Jerusalem has grievously sinned, therefore she is removed.”[1] Lamentations 1:8.  The prophet further says: “She remembered not her last end, therefore she came down wonderfully.”[2] Lamentations 1:9.  Such, O Lord, is the weakness of sinful man. He forgets his high calling, in the intoxication of pride and haughtiness, he becomes a slave to his passions and to wioked men; and thus renders himself unworthy of the providential care of an all-kind and loving Father. Through the sin of our ancestors, this day, the ninth of the 5th month has become a day of mourning for Israel and a day of amazement to all nations who knew the high position of Judah. They exclaim with astonishment “Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of his great anger?”[3] Deuteronomy 29:24.  And they will reply, as we must do “Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers which He made with them, when He brought them forth out of the land of Egypt.”[4] Deuteronomy 29:25.  At their departure from Egypt they already sinned by distrust in His Divine promises, and thus has this day been distinguished by misfortunes. On this day it was decreed by Thee, God of justice, against the whole generation that came from Egypt that they should not see the land of promise. On this day was destroyed the First, and, alas, on this day was destroyed the Second Temple, and on this day the great and celebrated city of Bether fell into the hand of the enemy. And so horrible a slaughter of the inhabitants of this populous city took place, that they could not finish burying the dead until the 15th of Aḇ!

Thus then was fulfilled the prophecy “Zion shall be ploughed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps and the mountain of the house as the high place of a forest.”[5] Micah 3:12.  But there has also been fulfilled the consoling promise through Thy servant Moses “And yet for all that when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them to destroy them utterly and to break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God.”[6] Leviticus 26:44. 

Mayest Thou, Ruler of all fates who determineth the events of the future, grant that we may have peace and happiness whilst we are here, and that we may be soon restored to the Holy land, which is the centre of all that is glorious and ennobling for our nation, the goal of all our hopes for the fulfilment of all Thy prophecies. “May the Redeemer soon come unto Zion. Turn us unto Thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.”[7] Lamentations 5:21.  Amen.





1Lamentations 1:8.
2Lamentations 1:9.
3Deuteronomy 29:24.
4Deuteronomy 29:25.
5Micah 3:12.
6Leviticus 26:44.
7Lamentations 5:21.



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