17 December 2018

Why Fast? What Good Does It Do?

10 Tevet 5779

Our Heritage by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov...
Rambam writes the following in Hilchot Ta'anit 5: The fast of the tenth of Tevet is like the other fasts which were established as means of mourning the destruction of the Beit ha-Mikdash 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 26:40) 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 ha-Mikdash 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 her exiles from the places of their dispersion, and to rebuild the Beit ha-Mikdash. 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 as yet repented for our sins and that we are therefore suffering because of our own transgressions 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.
Even when the Beit ha-Mikdash is in a state of destruction, and Israel is in exile and our land lies desolate in the hands of foreigners, these cannot be seen as signs that God has divorced Himself from His people, Heaven forbid. He did not decree eternal ruin for His sanctuary. Exile, destruction, and anguish are all temporary, and may, at any hour of Divine mercy, be transformed into rejoicing. Israel's dwelling in her Land and the building of the Sanctuary are alone eternal.
...Israel was not spewed out from her land; she was expelled from it because of her sins, but she will also return to it and possess it as an eternal inheritance. Her return is dependent only upon her repentance, and the Divine mercy which will hasten the time of the final redemption.
The aim of fasting, therefore, 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. It is therefore incumbent upon every person to take it to heart to examine his deeds and to repent during these days (of fasting), for this is the primary purpose of the fasts....
These are some of the things we need to repent for...

  • Disbelief of Hashem, of the Torah, of the mesorah received from the rabbis and the prophets.
  • Lack of faith in Hashem, His providence, His love, and His justice.
  • Elevating our own will above that of our Creator.
  • Shaping our image of God to our own liking rather than to the reality of Who He really is.
  • Loving and seeking comfort and ease with an unwillingness to suffer mesirut nefesh for the sake of Hashem, His Land, His People and His Torah.
  • Satisfaction with the status quo with thoughtless disregard for the suffering of the Holy Shechinah
  • Etc.,...

1 comment:

  1. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (OBM ZYA) taught:

    “If a person really trusts in G_d, then he realizes that it doesn’t help to lie, to steal, to cheat, or to push the other fellow down, in order to achieve success.

    He understands that all success and failure is ultimately in G_d’s hands, and while dishonesty may bring temporary gains, it cannot lead to true happiness in the end.”

    SOURCE: Faces and Facets
    (part III, chapter 3, page 125,
    article titled: Confidence and Trust)
    by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, year 1993 CE,
    Moznaim Publishing Corporation, Brooklyn, New York