Thursday, July 13, 2006

DVAR TORAH: Fast of the 17th of Tammuz

We come upon the most inauspicious time of the year, the Three Weeks

This day in history, the 16th of Tammuz, our ancestors reached the 40 days of counting after they received the Revelation, they day they counted on Moses returning from Heaven. According to Midrash, this was supposed to be their greatest moment, greater than Creation, the Flood, all the acts of our forefathers, the Plagues, the Sea of Reeds, and the Revelation on the 6th of Sivan, this was supposed to be the greatest event in history and was meant to usher in the Messianic age. This would silence and defeat the Satan forever. Obviously Satan couldn’t have that and had to somehow sabatoge it. Satan took Moses’ discarded body (he shed his physical body, the symbol of mortality and for forty days consisted only of his immortal soul) and caused the people to perceive his body being carried by angels on a funerary bier. However the people made the decision, they formed the Golden Calf, perhaps an homage to Baal or some idol they saw in Egypt. As people who three months ago were slaves, they needed leadership, and as every cooling fan and space heater I have ever owned, the warranty expired on this 90th day after their liberation.

Unholy Cow! (Mooby the Golden Calf from the Jay and Silent Bob movies)

Anyway, when Moses returned on the day he rendered the fortieth day after he ascended and saw that the people had turned to another god, he dropped the tablets and for forty days had to ask for forgiveness. Just looking at this timetable, it seems that this may be the source for fasting for forty days if one drops a Torah scroll. The next day after he attained the promise of forgiveness, he had to go for a third set of 40 days up to heaven, with the Shofar blasted every day as a reminder that Moses was still up there and forty days after the 1st of Elul, Moses descended the mountain holding the second set of Tablets and God’s forgjveness, for on this day we were forgiven, purifying us of our sins, before God we were clean, to paraphrase the verse given for this event in the Torah.

I type this dvar torah as I am offline, but I have probably have mentioned before this event, either in a Dvar Torah about Ki Tisa or Shavuot, or Rosh Chodesh Adar or something.

Now for the ramifications of this day, this day has remained a pretty bad one for the Jewish people. It was on this day that the Korban Tamid stopped being offered, the walls were breached on this day during the siege, an idol of Zeus or Jupiter was placed in the Temple, Torah Scroll rescued from the Temple was burnt by the Romans in 135. This also begins the Three Weeks, my least favorite time of year. For ten weeks during the year, Jews are supposed to observe a period of semi-mourning, the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot (Sefirat HaOmer), and the Three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the darkest day in the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’Av. This three week period is much worse because there are no leniencies, plus it gets worse as it goes on, and the last nine days you can’t even have meat or wine. No music, no haircuts/shaving,

Speaking of scary times for Israel, I would be remiss if I did not discuss the current threat against the nation. Terrorists and rogues are kidnapping Israeli citizens, both soldiers and civilians. I feel that what happened today when Lebanon/Hizbullah kidnapped Israeli soldiers, this will escalate very quickly into a war against both Lebanon and Syria. God-willing, our efforts will be crowned in triumph and we will be victorious. We have already seen the realization of what is said in the End of Days that “again there shall be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, voices of happiness, voices of joy, voices of the groom, and voices of the bride”, now may we see another promise of the end of days “He who makes peace in the heavens, may he make peace for us and for Israel and let us say, Amen!”

May you have a meaningful and accomplished fast.

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