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TZOM TAMMUZ - FAST OF THE 17TH OF TAMMUZ

 

In addition to Yom Kippur, the Talmud (Tractate Rosh Hashana 18b) discusses four further fast days (based on Zechariah 8:19) that commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples and the exile of the Jewish People from their homeland. Three of these fast days are Tisha B'Av - the Ninth of Av, Tzom Gedaliah – the third of Tishri and Asara B'Tevet - the 10th of Tevet. The fourth, Tzom Tammuz is explained by Rabbi Moshe Lazerus in the following article which first appeared on the web site Aish.com

 

The 17th of Tammuz is a fast day commemorating the fall of Jerusalem, prior to the destruction of the first Temple. This also marks the beginning of a 3-week period of mourning, leading up to Tisha B'Av. If the 17th of Tammuz falls on Shabbat, as it does this year, the fast is postponed until Sunday (21 July 2019). The 17th of Tammuz is the first of four fast days mentioned in the prophets. The purpose of a fast day is to awaken our sense of loss over the destroyed Temple – and the subsequent Jewish journey into exile.

 

Agonizing over these events is meant to help us conquer those spiritual deficiencies which brought about these tragic events. Through the process of "Teshuva" – self-introspection and a commitment to improve – we have the power to transform tragedy into joy. In fact, the Talmud says that after the future redemption of Israel and the rebuilding of the Temple, these fast days will be re-dedicated as days of rejoicing and festivity. For as the prophet Zechariah says: the 17th of Tammuz will become a day of "joy to the House of Judah, and gladness and cheerful feasts."

 

Five great catastrophes occurred in Jewish history on the 17th of Tammuz:

 

1) Moses broke the tablets at Mount Sinai – in response to the sin of the Golden Calf.

2)   The daily offerings in the First Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem, after the Kohanim could no longer obtain animals.

3) Jerusalem's walls were breached, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

4) Prior to the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostamos burned a Torah scroll – setting a precedent for the horrifying burning of Jewish books throughout the centuries.

5) An idolatrous image was placed in the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple – a brazen act of blasphemy and desecration.

 

(Originally, the fast was observed on the Ninth of Tammuz since that was the day Jerusalem fell prior to the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. However, after Jerusalem fell on the 17th of Tammuz – prior to the destruction of the Second Temple – the Sages decided upon a combined observance for both tragedies, the 17th of Tammuz.)

 

Abstaining from food and drink is the external element of a fast day. On a deeper level, a fast day is an auspicious day, a day when G‑d is accessible, waiting for us to repent.

 

The sages explain: "Every generation for which the Temple is not rebuilt, it is as though the Temple was destroyed for that generation." A fast day is not only a sad day, but an opportune day. It's 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 messianic times; may that be very soon.

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All contributions are accepted on the understanding that the authors are responsible for the opinions expressed which do not necessarily reflect the views of the Hull Reform Synagogue.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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