17 December 2010


10 Tevet 5771

Today is a fast day. It grieves my heart to walk down the streets of Jerusalem and see the sidewalk cafes full with people eating, drinking and enjoying themselves. How much more must it grieve Hashem's heart, k'viyechol.

It's a bit late in the day, but those in chu"l can still get some use out of this and then there is always next time, sad to say.

Some timely quotes from The Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov:

"Rambam writes the following in Hilchos Ta'anis 5: The fast of the tenth of Teves is like the other fasts which were established as means of mourning the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash and Israel's exile. However, the primary purpose of fasting is not grief and mourning, for the distress felt at the time when these events transpired is sufficient. Rather, the primary purpose of the fasts is to inspire people to repent, to bring us to recall the evil deeds of our ancestors as well as our own---deeds which brought them and bring us great travail. By remembering these events we will repent and act properly, as the verse (Vayikra 26.49) states: 'And they shall confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors for the evil that they have done to me.'

Our Sages (Talmud Yerushalmi, Yoma 1) taught: 'Any generation in which the Beit HaMikdash is not rebuilt, is considered as if they had destroyed it.' Every generation has the ability to awaken Divine mercy, to bring Israel salvation from her enemies, to gather the exiles from the places of their dispersion, and to rebuild the Beit haMikdash. How can this be accomplished? By complete repentance and by rectifying the sins of the previous generations. As long as salvation fails to arrive, it is a sign that we have not yet repented for our sins and that we are therefore suffering because of our own trangressions as well as those of our ancestors. It is therefore as if we were delaying the final redemption, and as if we ourselves had caused the destruction.

...The aim of fasting...is to subjugate our evil inclination by restriction of pleasure; to open our hearts and to stir us to repentance and good deeds, through which the gates of Divine mercy might be opened for us....

We read in Chayei Adam (133): 'Therefore, those people who fast, but who spend the day traveling or wasting their time, grasp what is of secondary importance, fasting, and forsake that which is essential, repenting. Nonetheless, repentance alone---without fasting---is insufficient, for it is a positive commandment, declared by the Prophets, to fast on these days.'"

May all your fasts result in complete and sincere repentance. Shabbat shalom.