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The Traditions of the Tenth of Teveth
By Eliezer Cohen
When is the fast of the Tenth of Teveth?
The fast of the Tenth of teveth comes out this year on Thursday, January 8, 1997.
What is the Fast all about?
The Fast is to remember and to commemorate the siege of Jerusalem. There are three fasts which concern the destruction of Jerusalem and our subsequent exile.
Background of the fast:
The Jewish People were already half exiled from their land. Nebuchadnetzer had taken King Yehoyachin and the Prophet Ezekial into captivity. In their place, Nebuchadnetzer had left as king in Jerusalem, Tzedkiyahu the son of Yehoyachin.
In Babylonia, the Jewish People began to make themselves comfortable in their exile. The prophet Ezekial chastised the Jews, that they should amend their ways and return to the customs of their fathers. However the people in exile were not interested. What would it help them?
In Jerusalem, Tzedkiyahu tried to make a coalition with the kings in nearby lands to rebel against Nebechadnetzer. However Nebechadnetzer found out and sent his general, Nevuzaradan, to take the city. In Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah, urged the people to return to the ways of their forefathers, but it was to no avail.
The siege began quietly, almost without any notice. The Jewish residents of the capital were secure in their fortified city. The warning of the prophet were like a joke, the words of a mad man.
The army of Nevuzeradan slowly encircled the fortified city. They closed off all entry and exit to the city. It took Nevuzaradan two and a half years to finally conquer the city.
Why is this fast so important?
This fast teaches us that had we mended our ways and not been so brazen in our so called strengths, had we heeded the words of the prophets, we would not have been exiled from our lands and we would still have the Holy Temple and control of our land.
What are the laws of the Fast?
This is considered one of the easier fasts. It is permissible to eat and drink during the night until the break of dawn. Wearing shoes and working are permitted during the day. Eating and drinking are only forbidden from the sunrise to the end of the day.
Sick people, pregnant or nursing women are exempt from fasting if it causes them suffering.
How should we conduct ourselves during the day?
The fast day should not be a day of entertainment, but rather a day of introspection. We should try to find in which way we may improve ourselves and our relations to G-d and the people around us.
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