Tisha B'Av at the Arch of Titus

Israeli Amb. to Italy Dror Eydar marks Tisha B'Av with message sent from the Arch of Titus, built in honor of Roman victory over the Jews.

Tags: Tisha B'Av
Amb. Dr. Dror Eydar ,

Dr. Dror Eydar
Dr. Dror Eydar
Dario Borgata

As Ambassador of the State of Israel, Tisha B'Av this year is different from previous years. This time I'm in Rome, at the Arch of Titus, built in honor of that victory over Jerusalem, in the year 70 C.E.

Across from us stands the Colosseum, constructed from the spoils of that war; and on the other side - the Curia, the Roman Senate building. Incredible symbolism.

The triumphal procession made its way through the main streets. Then it came here, to the Via Sacra - the holy path - to the Temple of Jupiter, where sacrifice was performed and public celebrations took place.

Yosef ben Matityahu, the commander of the Galilee during the Great Revolt, who was captured and joined Titus, documented the war in his book "History of the Jewish War against the Romans." He was an eyewitness to the parade.

I will read an excerpt from the book:

On the appointed day none of the vast multitude of the inhabitants of the city remained at his house; Everyone went out and grabbed a piece of land that they could stand on ...

The people who led the loot procession were dressed in special clothes ... Even the many prisoners did not lack decorations, and the variety of colors of their clothes obscured the appearance of their deformed bodies...

Many pictures re-enacted the war: a prosperous land becomes a wasteland ... people on the run ... others taken captive ... torches of fire thrown on the temples ... a land entirely consumed by fire ... all of these were ... the fate of the Jews ...

At dawn Vespasian and Titus set out ... for Octavia's Walk (where the stage stood, and from where the procession began) ......But the loot taken in the temple of Jerusalem, made the greatest impact of them all; that is, the golden table, of the weight of many stones; the menorah also, that was made of gold; and the last of all the spoils, was carried the Books of Law of the Jews...". (Apparently preserved in the Temple Library in Jerusalem). End of quote from Josephus.

By the way, the place from which the procession of humiliation of the captives of Jerusalem began(Octavia's walk), was interestingly chosen about 1500 years later, as the place of the Jewish ghetto in Rome. Fascinating symbolism.

If we could ask one of the tormented captives of Judea: what is your dream? The answer would undoubtedly be: to return home to Sion, and rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem and the holy land.

He would also repeat the oath of the first prisoners of Sion from the first destruction, who had been expelled to Babylon: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."

Since then we have repeated the oath over and over again. We promised ourselves that if we did not return, then our children or their descendants would do so. If not today, then tomorrow or the day after; And if still not then - then in a thousand or two thousand years; But eventually we will return home, because there is hope for our future.

Today I came as the ambassador of the state of Israel to tell the captives of Judea, whose spirits are hovering here, and the symbols of their lost freedom - our freedom - are engraved here on the stone: We have kept the promise. Israel Lives!

Thanks to the Parco archeologico del Colosseo authority.