Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Asarah B'Tevet

On the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet, in the year 3336 from Creation (425 BCE), the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar aid siege to Jerusalem. Thirty months later—on 9 Tammuz 3338—the city walls were breached, and on 9 Av of that year the Holy Temple was destroyed. The Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia for 70 years.
The 10th of Tevet (this year, December 13, 2013) is observed as a day of fasting, mourning and repentance. We refrain from food and drink from daybreak to nightfall, and add selichot and other special supplements to our prayers. More recently, 10 Tevet was chosen to also serve as a “general kaddish day” for the victims of the Holocaust, many of whose day of martyrdom is unknown. (
What is the essence of a fast?
 The Ramchal says that " A person should be careful with his actions and with what path he takes. If you don't pay attention to what you are doing you are leaving your soul open to spiritual destruction. A person who doesn't examine his actions will most likely be killed". One of the ways of the yetzer hara is that he keeps you  busy to the point that you don't have time to think of what you are doing with your life. To better understand this, we can look at how Pharoh worked the men in Mitzrayim.  He wanted to work the men so hard that they had no time to plan against him. This is a tactic of the Yetzer Hara. A fast day is supposed to be a time where we stop and think, "Why are we fasting?" What did we lose that we need to regain? When a person doesn't eat, their body is lacking its physical nutrients  it needs for that day. So to, as we fast for our Beit Hamikdash, we have to try to understand what we are lacking in our own spiritual life that is preventing the Biet Hamikdash from being rebuilt. When a person is distracted with materialistic things he is depriving his neshema from realizing what he needs to work on spiritually. These modern day distractions are unlike the ones in the past where even with  washing machines and microwaves which help get errands done quicker, we are still finding ourselves distracted and deprived. Due to the fact that we have many television programs and all types of electronics that take up our time, it prevents us from realizing what is missing within us. Apple iPods, iPhones, iMac etc. all have the symbol of a bitten apple. This bitten apple is a symbol which I'm sure no one has ever noticed to be a symbol of the sin with Adam, Chava and the snake. This apple represents the modern day yetzer hara-technology and materialism which is a struggle very hard to overcome. Lets use this fast day as an oppurtunity to focus and stop depriving ourselves of the spiritual nutrients due to the"bitten apple". 

                By: Esther Shamayev
Have an easy and meaningful fast!

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