Words 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 itâ€”the way the Jewish world is being torn apart at the seamsâ€”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. â€”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-Ã -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]