Sunday, 23 June 2013

What is the Fast of 17 Tammuz?

This year the Fast of 17 Tammuz falls on Tuesday, 25 June 2013 at 04:07am and ends at 20:16pm. I have provided some of the basic information below for your information.

First, I must say that even though there are more Jews than ever living in Israel (close to six million) those who spurn Hashem and hate their fellow Jews are the ones who are heard by the world~perhaps because they make the most noise. Our own elected government wants to run buses, open movies and restaurants in Jerusalem on Shabbos and those who want to be "Jewish in Israel" are persecuted.

What happens in Tel Aviv and other cities is one thing~BUT~to desecrate the Holy Shabbat, allow women who want to be men, mock our Holy Services at the Kotel, while religious Jews are prevented from entering (for the first time since the city was united), arrest Jews who dare to move their lips on the Temple Mount, and allow a "gay" parade through the center of Jerusalem~Surely "The Holy One Blessed Be He" weeps with sadness in the heavens.

How can it be that our Holiest City is being shamed and abused in such a manner by Jews so soon after so many died to free our Land? Have we learned nothing?? No wonder our enemies mock us!!

For eight hundred and thirty years there was a point of contact between heaven and earth that was so important that nearly two-thirds of the mitzvot depend upon its existence.

The fast of the 17th of Tammuz begins the three weeks of mourning that end on the 9th of Av. During this time we mourn over the destruction of the Holy Temple which brought the physical and spiritual exile which we are now living in.But the fast of the 17th of Tammuz is originally in memory of five tragedies that occurred in our history.

1) Moses Broke the Tablets
When Moses went up to receive the tablets the people became restless because he was gone for so long and despaired that he may not return, so they built a "Golden Calf".  When Moses returned and saw the Jewish people worshiping the Golden Calf he smashed the tablets knowing it would be wrong to give the Holy Torah to the people when they were in such a sinful state. He needed to shock the people so that they would repent. This repentance after the sin of the Golden Calf raised them to an even higher level of spirituality than they could have possibly achieved before. It is also said that  the first tablets were only associated with the Five Books of Moses, while the second set introduced the Oral Law.

2) Daily Sacrifices Stopped in the Holy Temple
During Babylonian siege of Jerusalem the Kohanim of the First Temple, were forced to stop offering the daily sacrifice (Taanit 28b) due to the shortage of sheep.

3) The Burning of the Holy Torah Scroll
The Talmud, in Masechet Taanit 28b, says that in the time of the Roman persecution, a general named Apostamos burned a HolyTorah scroll. Some say that this was the authoritative scroll written by Ezra the Scribe. All other Torah scrolls written were checked against this scroll for accuracy and errors. Others say he burnt every Torah scroll he could find. Either way, the intent behind Apostamus' actions were to totally eradicate Torah from the nation of Israel. 

4) An Idol was Placed in the Holy Temple
King Menashe, one of the worst of the Jewish kings, had an idol placed in the Holy Sanctuary of the Temple. Later, at the time of the Roman persecution, Apostamos, captain of the occupation forces, did the same, and publicly burned the Torah~acts of blasphemy and desecration

5) Walls Breached
The walls of Jerusalem were finally breached by the Romans in 69 CE. The Jews put up a valiant struggle, but the Romans destroyed the second Holy Temple three weeks later n the 9th of Av.

The Jerusalem Talmud says this is also the date when the Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem on their way to destroying the first Temple.
The 17th of Tammuz has continued to be calamitous for the Jewish people.According to the website of the Orthodox Union the following are also related to this day:
~ In 1391, more than 4,000 Jews were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain
~ In 1559, the Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned and looted
~ In 1941, 4000 Jews of the ghetto in Bialystok were shot
~ In 1944, the Kovno ghetto was liquidated
~ In 1970, Libya ordered the confiscation of Jewish property

Some guidelines for the Fast (In All Cases Check With Your Rabbi):
* Healthy adults (above bar or bat mitzvah age) abstain from eating or drinking between
  dawn and nightfall
* Pregnant and nursing mothers do not have to fast
* Someone who is ill should consult with a rabbi
* Minors old enough to understand (exempt from fasting) should eat only simple foods
* Even those exempt from fasting, should refraining from eating meat, luxurious foods,
   sweets  and hard liquor
* Unlike the two Jewish fast days Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av, washing and wearing leather
   are permitted on this day.
* Special prayers (Vayechal and Anenu) are added to the morning and afternoon prayers. 
  Ashkenazim add the latter only in the afternoon service (Mincha).

Abstaining from food and drink is the external element of a fast day. 

According to the sages:
For every generation that the Temple is not's as if the Temple was destroyed for that generation.  

A fast day is not only a sad day, but a day when we are empowered to fix the cause of that destruction, so that our long exile will be ended and we will find ourselves living in the days of Mashiach.
May those who observe this fast find true meaning in the day and may Hashem send Mashiach to save us from ourselves~soon~in our time...

1 comment:

Sophie Golden said...

Thanks for very interesting post. I need to renew my knowledge about this fast every year. Tzom kal!

Israel, Jerusalem, Judaism, Zionism, Middle East, Aliyah, Conversion, and everything else that pops up