Some thoughts on how to relate to the fast day of the 10th of Tevet which commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem at the time of the first temple.
Many people are not aware that there are actually six fast days during the Jewish
year: Yom Kippur, the Fast of Gedaliah, the 10th of Tevet, the 17th of Tammuz,
the 9th of Av, and the Fast of Esther. Yom Kippur and the 9th of Av (commemorating
the destruction of the temples) are 24 hour fasts. The other fasts
are observed from sun up until night.
The Jewish people were given the Land of Israel in which to build a Torah nation.
As long as they are living according to that purpose, the nation has the promise
of G-d’s blessing. If we deviate from our national path (by dispensing with Torah
law) the land will ‘respond.’
THE LAND OF ISRAEL RESPONDS TO THE JEWS
During the time of the first temple, the Jews of Israel began abandoning the law
and defiled the land through observing idolatry. Prophets were sent to admonish
the people and stir them to return to the national agenda but they did not listen.
This spiritual decline opened the gates for Nebuchadnetzar, the King of Babylon
to attack Israel…
“And it was in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month [Tevet], on the
tenth day of the month, that Nebuchatnetzar King of Babylon came, he and all
his host, upon Jerusalem. He encamped by it and built forts around it. And the
city came under siege till the eleventh year of King Tzidkiyahu. On the ninth
of the month famine was intense in the city, the people had no bread, and
the city was breached…” (Kings II, 25)
The city held out, in spite of starvation for three years until it was finally taken
and the temple was destroyed. Yalkut Shimoni on Eicha tells us that G-d
strengthened the inhabitants of the city to hold out for such a long time in
order to give the Jews time to repent. They didn’t, and the city fell.
WE NEED TIME TO CHANGE OUR WAYS
This was also the reason why Noah took so long to build the Ark. It was to
give the inhabitants enough time to notice before disaster hit so
that they could change their ways in time.
This is also the purpose of a fast day. It is to help us reflect upon our national
mission and change our ways before disaster strikes.
The Sages tell us that “Every generation in whose days the Temple is not rebuilt,
it is as if they had destroyed it.” (Jer Talmud, Yoma 1). The Tenth of Tevet was an early warning. Early enough for us to change our ways before disaster struck and the city captured and the temple destroyed.
Today, the enemies of the Jewish people are setting their eyes on Jerusalem
once again and preparing themselves to take it away from us. Let us fast and
change our ways to avoid disaster and help bring the ultimate fulfillment of our
people in the land.