GATEWAYS TO TORAT HAYIM

 
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17th of Tammuz

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by Simmons, Rabbi Shraga

“The 17th of Tammuz is a fast day commemorating the fall of Jerusalem, prior to the destruction of the Holy Temple. This also marks the beginning of a 3-week national period of mourning, leading up to Tisha B’Av…

 

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…

 

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

 

  • …the tablets at Mount Sinai [were broken] – in response to the sin of the Golden Calf.
  • The daily offerings in the First Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem after the Kohanim could no longer obtain animals.
  • Jerusalem’s walls were breached, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.
  • 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.
  • An idolatrous image was placed in the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple – a brazen act of blasphemy and desecration.”