Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
1.Today, the 17th of Tammuz, is one of the fast days that were established to commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temples. On the 17th of Tammuz, the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans. Three weeks later, on Tisha B'Av, the Second Temple was destroyed. Today the period known as "between the straits" or "the three weeks" begins and mourning customs are observed during this time.
2. Our sages mention four other catastrophes that occurred on this date: Moses descended from Mount Sinai, saw the golden calf, and broke the Tablets of the Covenant; the Tamid sacrifice in the First Temple was halted due to lack of sheep; Apostomos (during either the First or Second Temple period) burned a Torah scroll and placed an idol in the Temple sanctuary.
3. What do these five events have in common? There was a shattering or a violation of what we thought would last forever, whether it was the Tablets of the Covenant, the walls of Jerusalem, or the daily routine in the Holy Temple. Our sages call upon us to strengthen our values that surround and protect us like walls and never take them for granted.
4. This time of year reminds us that despite how much we have advanced and achieved during the last generation, we have not yet reached complete redemption. There are pieces from our personal and national lives that are shattered and missing. The disasters and convulsions that the world underwent this past year (as of this writing, they are still searching for those missing in Florida) serve as additional painful reminders that we still have work to do. The fast is not meant to cause suffering, but to make us think and learn lessons from both past and present events.
May we hear only good news.