Satellite.gifWords from the 17th of Tammuz’s penitentiary prayers. “Hear our voice, Hashem, our God, pity and be compassionate to us.”

The Three Weeks that begin today and culminate with the Tisha B’Av have traditionally been a time of great calamity for the Jewish People. Last year, we were torn apart as Israel ordered Gaza’s Jews out of their homes. But historically, there have been many other calamities.

Let’s face it—the way the Jewish world is being torn apart at the seams—this existential threat from an external enemy will provide a period of unity that we desperately need. Sad that it comes in such a way, but often children learn better from their behavior when they are punished as a group.

Do not forsake us Hashem, do not be distant from us. —Slichos. On fast days, we ask God to be merciful and recite special prayers called Slichos to arouse Divine compassion. The prayers recall many periods in ancient Jewish history where prayers were answered and people saved. They also recall just how poorly we have behaved vis-à-vis our obligations to our fellow Jew and God. God has infinite ability to forgive our sorry performance as a people in the spiritual realms, but does not have patience to forgive our intransigence and degradation of our fellow Jews (and other human beings.) This is why the Slichos prayers have page after page of We have caused wickedness…inspire us to abandon the path of wickedness….

the 17th of Tammuz can be a happy day in the future if we can improve the acts of loving-kindness and eliminate the hatred and harm that we cause one another.

The 17th of Tammuz is mentioned in Nevi’im (Prophets) – as “the fast of the fourth month” (Zechariah 8:19). The Mishnah (Taanit 4:8) lists five calamities that befell the Jewish people on this date:

1. Moses broke the two tablets of stone on Mount Sinai;
2. The daily tamid offering ceased to be brought;
3. The walls of Jerusalem were breached (proceeding to the destruction of the Temple);
4. Prior to Bar Kokhba’s revolt, Roman military leader Apostamos burned a Torah scroll;
5. An idol was erected in the Temple.

The Babylonian Talmud (Taanit 28b) places the second and fifth tragedies in the First Temple, while dating the third tragedy (breach of Jerusalem) to the Second Temple period. Jerusalem of the First Temple, on the other hand, was breached on the 9th of Tammuz (cf. Jeremiah 52.6-7). [Wiki]

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Rabbi Yonah

8 Comments

  • I had been waiting for someone to say that today was the 17th of Tammuz. How fitting is it that today is the day of all of this escalation? The bombs falling in Haifa? All of this sadness?

  • How fitting? There have been terrorist killings in Israel every day of the year. There is nothing religious about this. Get real.

  • Well, again, the US is the only nation officially voting against the UN condemnation of Israel. And of course, the media and their moral equivalence are bashing Israel as the nasty westernized bullies on the block. Unfortunately, that’s painfully real.

  • Relax Rabbi Dude, Bob Nesta said it best.

    Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a merry go round. This fighting, the way Israel does it, accomplishes nothing. It’s alot of PR work.

    The devil in the white house will help arrange a truce in a few days. There will be ‘quiet’ again, or there will be a longer war but I doubt it. Israel cannot handle ruling these people, yet she won’t quite admit it. It will work out, we’ll go back to our petty quabbles.

    It’s sort of simple. The rulers on the Pali side don’t want peace bec. they will have nothing to do. They are dumb and don’t feel like building a country.

    The people, many do want peace, but the ones who don’t rule over them by violence and intimidation, and the various ‘religious’ movements hold the day.

    Israel has to defeat the extremists, but only on their terms, i.e. car bombings in crowded markets, etc. 50 car bombs the day after the kidnapped soldier. In crowded markets. no apologies.

    What they are doing now the enemy considers like ‘color war’.

  • Shy Guy you are right that we recite Shma Koleinu during the shemona esrei thrice daily. I was referring to the Shema Koleinu which is recited during Fast days which is its own prayer incorporating the first lines of the Shma Koleinu of the Amida. This one is found in slichos.
    thanks for the comments!

    The Shma Kol

  • “Let’s face it—the way the Jewish world is being torn apart at the seams—this existential threat from an external enemy will provide a period of unity that we desperately need. Sad that it comes in such a way, but often children learn better from their behavior when they are punished as a group.”

    Honestly, this condescending atitude really scares me. You are talking about people dying here and acting as if you can give a justification for it. One death is too many for the sake of Jewish unity. (Especially because we will divide as soon as any threat disappears, making their death pointless.)

  • The notion that ‘we’re lucky we’re being attacked so we can fight someone else instead of each other’ may look attractive now, but we’ll see how it works out in the long run. The Germans took the same view in 1914, when all the SPD delegates in the Reichstag voted for Wilhelm II’s war resolution.

    There are lots of good reasons to wage war at this point, but surely this isn’t one of them.

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