Or, why I was home yesterday nursing a crushing headache. Yesterday in the Hebrew (Lunar) calendar was the ninth of the month of Av (Tish'a B'Av.) This date is auspicious in Jewish history as it caps a yearly three-week mourning period that commemorates the siege of the Holy City of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (actually, both Temples) some 2,000-odd years ago. In recognition of these events, yesterday was a day of prayer, mourning and fasting for the Jewish people. To get back to the headache part, well, you try not eating or drinking for over 25 hours (that includes coffee) and see how you feel! By virtue of the time of the year that Tish'a B'Av falls out in, it is the longest -and thus most difficult- fast day in the Jewish schedule. The prayers and lamentations recited during Tish'a B'Av recount the horrific details of the destruction of the Holy City and Temple and the disbursement, torture and slaughter of the Jewish people. The silver lining, however, is the affirmation of G-d's love for his people and their eventual redemption. A more thorough explanation of the "three weeks" and Tish'a B'Av can be found here.