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10th of Tevet: 5 facts

עשרה בטבת

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

1. Today's newspaper headlines will probably not mention what happened on this day 2,611 years ago, when the headlines read : The siege on Jerusalem has begun. On the 10th of Tevet, events leading to the destruction of the Holy Temple began when the Babylonian army surrounded Jerusalem.
2. But wait a minute. The walls of Jerusalem were not breached on this day. The Holy Temple still stood. Destruction came later. However, a fast was set according to today’s date because it was on this day that the first signs of a coming catastrophe were visible. There was time to change course and repair what needed to be fixed. The fast reminds us how important it is to notice the first cracks in our walls, to identify the beginnings of potential destruction – both on a national and personal level, and to nip impending disaster in the bud.
3. This is the shortest fast of the year for those living in the Northern Hemisphere: In Israel, it begins at dawn (at approximately 5:30 in the morning) and ends at approximately 5:10 in the afternoon.
4. After the founding of the state, it was decided to mark today’s date as “Yom HaKaddish HaKlali” (All-Inclusive Day of Kaddish), in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust on unknown dates. Many survivors discovered that there was no record of when their relatives died so they did not know when to say kaddish for them, light a memorial candle, and dedicate Torah learning to their memories and their souls' ascent. If you have such relatives, this date, especially, is the day to remember them.
5. And what is the purpose of fasts that commemorate calamities? The Rambam writes: "To stir our hearts and to open the paths to teshuvah . . . that in remembering what happened, we will repent and improve our conduct."


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