I had planned to write first about how impoverished Jews lived in old Europe but today being tisha b’Av (the 9th day of the hebrew month of Av) I have a trove of material for a post. Tisha b’Av is the day that the Roman legion after fighting in and taking Jerusalem began burning the second holy temple. It has always been a dark day for Jews and humanity. Among the bad things that happened on this day were: the spies Moses sent out came back with a bad report that we had to wander for 38 more years, the first temple was destroyed, second temple was destroyed, Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, WWI starts–beginning the slide toward the Holocaust. And today, another Tisha b’Av, comes the announcement that the clearing of Jews from Gaza and north Samaria begins in 48 hours.
On this day Jews fast and study and act like we were mourning a death of a family member so that the creator of the universe may remember us and redeem us from our travails.
Siege and Starvation: One of the ways divine justice arrives in the world is famine another is war. Both can lead a person to starvation. As I sit on a low stool and fast this 9th of Av my planned learning mostly deals with accounts in the bible and other writings about the starvation we received at the hands of Rome and Babylon.
One story from a siege Jerusalem deals with stockpiled supplies. Two rich men had stockpiled enough grain for flour and wood for fire to bake bread to last seven years of siege, zealots wishing to fight and kill the Romans burned the warehouses to force the inhabitants to break out and fight. It seems everyone has a little food set aside in their plans, but who thinks about long term fuel supply. Yeheskel (Ezekiel) is given a recipe by God (Ezekiel Chapter 4, verses 7-12) to eat while he is demonstrating to Israel what its siege would look like, here is a decent translation from the net:
For your reference:
a shekel = 8.5 grams or .27 oz
a hin is around a gallon
A serious starvation ration, the cake is cooked in a pan like a pancake. Normally I would expect it to be fried in oil, although it seems Yeheskel likely had to dry fry it during his demonstration of the future siege. Fast forward to to the present day. This is what Yesha council suggested that settlers in besieged communities to stockpile. All families must collect enough supplies to last them two weeks: Canned goods, pasta, rice, oil, sugar, powdered milk, crackers, toilet paper, candles and matches, can openers, flashlights, medicine, and first
OBTW, as a data point, here is a list of the food ration from the independence war and siege of Jerusalem era up until 1959. “26 April, 1949: The cabinet declared a state of national austerity and rationing of basic food products… The citizens received their rations by means of a local grocery stores. Minister Yosef provided a detailed program, according to which each citizen would receive a monthly supply of food worth IL6. The national austerity menu designed by the new minister was made up of the following daily rations: an unlimited amount of standard bread; 60 grams of corn; 58 grams of sugar; 60 grams of flour; 17 grams of rice; 20 grams of legumes; 20 grams of margarine; 8 grams of noodles; 200 grams of skim-milk cheese, 600 grams of onions, and 5 grams of biscuits. The meat ration was 75 grams a month per person.”
Please say a prayer that the siege be lifted on the Jews of Gaza and north Samaria.