The Ninth of Av: “A Day of Infamy” & America’s 911
By Rabbi David Rosenberg
We are all familiar with the prophetic and redemptive significance of the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot which form a parenthesis between the death and resurrection of Messiah and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit seven weeks later. But, there is another seven week period that begins on a day that can be described with the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: “a day that will live in infamy.” That day is the 9th of Av when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the first Temple in 587/6 B.C.E.
Our sages named the seven Haftarah portions between Tisha B’av and Rosh Hashanah “The Seven Messages of Consolation,” all of which derive from Isaiah. Now, instead of beginning our introspection within the 10 Days of Awe (between Rosh Hashanna & Yom Kippur), we begin our preparation for the Holy Days “seven weeks” earlier on Tisha B’av, with the hope of learning from our past so we don’t have to repeat the past in our future.
But if the attack on Pearl Harbor isn’t strong enough a comparison, imagine the unthinkable idea of America letting it happen again, in the same place, and on the same day. That would be a day of double infamy.
Unfortunately, for us, the Jewish people, it did happen again. The second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, again on Tisha B’av. Forty years earlier, on that same day of Tisha B’av in 30 AD, Yochanan declared this prophetic warning, “The ax is already laid at the root of the tree (Luke 3:9).” These prophetic words of Yochanan help us understand who he is and why his life is inextricably linked to Shabbat Nachamu and the ninth of Av.
“Nachamu” (Parasha V’et’chanan) is the first of the seven messages after Tisha B’av, which opens with these incredible words: “Comfort, yes, comfort My people! says your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her... For she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:1-3).”
Still, more evidence emerges that Yeshua was immersed by Yochanan (John) on or near the 9th of Av, a very important fast day on our Jewish calendar. We know Messiah began a 40 day fast immediately after His immersion. Also, when Yochanan was asked “who are you,” he gave a first person, eyewitness testimony, “he answered in the words of Yesha‘yahu the prophet, “I am ‘ The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of Adonai’ (Yochanan 1:23).’” In other words, “If you want to know who I am, read this weeks Haftarah portion.”
It is here that Messiah departs into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. These same 40 days parallel precisely the first 40 days of Israel’s 40 year wilderness journey that, according to Jewish tradition, began on the 9th of Av (Num. 14:34).
But as Yeshua went into the wilderness, what were they reading during these seven weeks in every synagogue? Following Shabbat Nachamu, the next four weeks of Isaiah are divided into four readings from Isaiah 49:14-55:5, with some very interesting edits missing in the sequence: Isaiah 51:4-11 (8 verses) and of course, Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
Why did the rabbis omit Isaiah 53? Is it because it vividly points to Yeshua as our Messiah on the very week (4th message) where Moses himself declares in the Torah portion: “the Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear (Deut. 18:15)?”
Luke’s narrative in chapters 3 and 4 helps us to look through the lens of the Torah and Haftarah portions to vividly see a clearer, more observant picture of Messiah in the New Testament as we approach the Holy Days every year. But, there’s more.
Carefully examine the dialogue of Messiah with Ha’satan during His temptation. Messiah refutes Ha’satan exclusively from the Torah portions in Deuteronomy that were being read in every synagogue during the first three weeks of the seven messages.
‘“And Satan said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ But Yeshua answered him, saying, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God’ (Luke 4:3-4; Deut. 8:3 - Parashah Ekev, week two).”
Now, examine the larger context of Messiah’s answer: “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these 40 years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger....that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone... (Deut.8:2-3).” It is important to understand that Yeshua had nothing to say to Ha’satan in the wilderness, other than to quote the Torah portions being read in the synagogue at the very time of His testing.
Finally, as Messiah returns to Nazareth they are about to read from the seventh message of Isaiah, Parashah Nitzavim (Isaiah 61:10-63:9). As Messiah was handed the scroll of Isaiah, He began to read, “The Spirit of Adonai is upon me; ... he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned and renewed sight for the blind...” (Luke 4:18,19; Isaiah 61:1-2a ). He then said, “Today, these Scriptures are fulfilled in your hearing. (Luke 4:21)”.
It has been exactly 49 days from Tisha B’av to Nitzavim and 43 days between Nachamu and Nitzavim, clearly more than enough time for Messiah’s wilderness journey. Look at the Scriptures we read every year between Shabbat Hazone, Tisha B’av and Nitzavim. He has fulfilled more than we have ever imagined. He came at the right time, to the right place, to make right all our past days of infamy, so that our future can be found in Him.
(All Biblical quotes are from The Complete Jewish Bible & NKJV)
Rabbi David Rosenberg and his wife, Helene, are co-founders of Shuvah Yisrael in Roslyn/East Williston, Long Island, N.Y. Both are Master of Divinity graduates of Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, N.Y.
This article is taken from The Mystery of the Babylonian Torah & Haftarah Cycle in Luke 3 & 4 (Messiah 96).
Email Rabbi Rosenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or questions.