Model at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem:
Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple.
Today (Sunday) we are fasting from early in the morning until the evening after it has become dark. Actually, today is not the 17 Tammuz but the 18 Tammuz. The fast had to be delayed for one day, as yesterday was Shabbat. Jew are not allowed to fast on Shabbat. However, in case Yom Kippur falls on a Shabbat, we do fast.
The 17 Tammuz has been a sad day throughout Jewish history. The most famous event on that day was when Moshe came down from Mount Sinai and saw the Jews dancing around the Golden Calf (Egel HaZahav). He smashed the tablets (Luchot), as well all know. Many years later, our enemies (e.g. the Babylonians or the Romans) were slowly slowly conquering Jerusalem and the First and the Second Temple. With 17 Tammuz, a three – week – long mourning period starts ending with Tisha be’Av (9th Av). On Tisha be’Av, both Temples were destroyed: In 586 BCE the First and in 70 after the begin of the common era, the Second Temple.
Other tragic events happened to the Jews:
On 17 Tammuz 1944, the Nazis destroyed the ghetto in Kovno and sent all the Jews to the death camps.
Fast days have the task to bring the Jews to do Teshuva (return to G – d). We should then study Parashat Ki Tisa (the event with the Golden Calf). However, we don’t only fast and think that this is it. Fasting itself is showing a serious intention but it is still up to our actions whether we truly repent.
We don’t just read or study Torah but what we have to do is to internalize the content and Mitzvot. The laws are G – d’s will (Ratzon HaEliyon) and by keeping them, we should try reaching a special closeness (Devekut) to Him. The chassidic book “Bnei Yissachar” commentates after the arrival of Meshiach, 17 Tammuz as well as 9 Av are going to turn into joyous days where we will have feasts.
Halachot for 17 Tammuz:
a) No eating
b) No drinking
c) No joyous events
Halachot until Tisha be’Av:
a) No Jewish weddings are taking place.
b) No parties or listening to music.
Why are we introducing the mourning period already three weeks before Tisha be’Av ?
Because the Jews in the days of both Temple destructions, were fighting and many lost their lives. Our enemies didn’t let any food into Jerusalem and thousands of people died of hunger.
Let us hope that Meshiach will be coming soon and build the Third Temple.
Zom Kal – Have an easy Fast everyone !
Absorbing the Sanctity of Eretz Israel
Source: “Celebration of the Soul” by
Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
The more difficult it is to endure the air of the Diaspora, the more one feels the impure spirit of the impure land. This is a sign of the inner absorption of the sanctity of Eretz Israel, of the heavenly mercy that will not abandon one who is worthy of dwelling in the pure shadow of the land of life, even when he is far away and wandering in his exile. The foreignness felt in the Diaspora ties all of one’s inner desire to Eretz Israel and its sanctity of the Land bores deeper and deeper.
When the depth of the holy yearning of love for Zion, the memory of the Land and all its preciousness, wells up in the soul of the individual, it flows like a spring for the entire collective, for all of the thousands of soul bond to Him. The sound of the Shofar heralds the ingathering of the dispersed and great mercy abounds. Israel’s hope for life glitters, the blossom of G – d flourishes, and the light of salvation and redemption ramifies and spreads like the dawn spreading over the mountains.