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Shiva Asar B'Tammuz - The 17th Of Tammuz

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

The Daily Halacha Moment - The 17th of Tammuz 🕍

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


What happened on Shiva Asar B'Tammuz?

Why are we fasting today?


The Rambam ( Hilchot Taanit 5:1) explains that fasting does two things: It awakens our hearts and it urges us onto the path of teshuvah.

The purpose of the fast is for the teshuvah, the returning to Hashem, that is instigated by the fasting. The Chayei Adam (133:1) explains that if we do not focus on things that are important, we have lost the essential theme of Chazal’s intent in the fast.

What does “awaken our hearts” mean? It attunes us to the loss, that great loss, of the Shechinah dwelling in our midst. Klal Yisrael is unique among all the nations of the world because of our unique ability to achieve a dveikut b’Hashem — a cleaving and closeness to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

It is this ability to achieve dveikut that gave us all the Nevi’im that we had. It is this ability to achieve dveikut which allows us to reach heights in our tefillot, our learning of His Torah, and in our middot which is of upmost importance. We had the Maran the Shulchan Aruch in our midst because of this ability to achieve dveikut b’Hashem. The Beit HaMikdash in our midst allowed us to achieve even greater dveikus. The loss of the Beit HaMikdash was a loss of who we are as a nation. It is a negation of part of our national character. It is the metaphorical loss of our right arm.

The 17th Of Tammuz: What Happened?

The Gemara (Taanit 26a to 28b) lists five tragedies that occurred on this day:

1) Foreshadowing what was to come, Moshe Rabbeinu found Klal Yisrael worshiping the golden eigel when he came down from Har Sinai. He broke the first set of luchot.

2) During his three-year siege on the first Beit HaMikdash, Nevuchadnezzar managed to put a stop to the Korban Tamid that was offered daily by the Kohanim. It was not restored until the second Beit HaMikdash was built.

3) The walls of Yerushalayim were broken into during the time of the Second Beit HaMikdash.

4) During the time before the destruction of the second Beit HaMikdash, a Greek general named Apostumos, publicly burned a sefer Torah. It was a sefer Torah written by Ezra HaSofer himself, and was the most authoritative one that we had.

5) Apostumos placed a statue in the Beit HaMikdash. According to the Talmud Yerushalmi it was much earlier and done by Menashe ben Chizkiyahu.

The period of time between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av is known as “Bein HaMetzarim — between the straits or days of distress.” during the next three weeks we will bzh discuss the Halachot in great detail.

May we be zoche to see the coming of Mashiach Bemeherah BeYamenu Amen!

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