This coming Tuesday, July 15th, we will commemorate the 17th of Tamuz, a fast-day. The 17th of Tamuz is one of the four fasting days in which we remember the events that lead to the destruction of our first Bet haMiqdash (=Temple of Jerusalem) in 586 BCE and the consequent exile.
We fast on the 10th of Tebet, when the enemy began the siege of
Jerusalem, which provoked untold starvation, epidemics, etc.
We observe a day of fast on the 17th of Tamuz because this is when the
Babylonians made the first breach in the walls of the city, that is,
when they came into the city.
3. After three weeks of battle and
agonizing resistance, the enemy finally prevailed. That is why three
weeks after the 17th of Tamuz we observe the 9th of Ab, the National day
of mourning for the Jewish people. On this tragic day the first Bet
haMiqdash was destroyed and burned (the Second Bet HaMiqdash was also
destroyed on a 9th of Ab, in the year 68 of the Common Era). Thousands
of Jews were killed or died from starvation and the rest were taken
captives to Babylonia. A small Jewish population remained in Israel as
vassals of the Babylonians.
4. A few years later, a group of
Jews killed the Babylonian appointee, Gedaliah ben Ahiqam on the 3rd of
Tishri. The consequences were devastating. The Babylonian emperor
interpreted this murder as a rebellion against his kingdom and he
ordered that the the small Jewish population that had remained in Israel
after the destruction of the Temple be also killed or exiled.
four dates 10 of Tebet, 17 of Tamuz, 9 of Ab and 3 of Tishri were
established by our Prophets as days of fasting. In order to remember the
destruction of the Bet haMiqdash and our of responsibility, encouraging
us to introspect and repent.
It is interesting to notice that
around the year 516 BCE, 70 years after the exile, around 40,000 Jews
came back to Israel and built the Second Bet-haMiqdash. At that point,
the prophet Zekharia and Anshe Keneset haGedola (The first Jewish
Congress) canceled these fasting days and declared them days of joy and
"Thus says HaShem, lord of Hosts: The fast of the
fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and
the fast of the tenth shall [now end and] be to the house of Yehuda
seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts..." (Zekharia 8:19)
When the second bet haMiqdash was destroyed, in the year 68 of the CE we started fasting again.
BH, When the Third Bet Hamiqdash will be built, במהרה בימינו, these fast days will be turned again into days of celebration. .