Be grateful to anyone you help. They are helping you fulfill your life's mission.
Be especially careful not to speak or act condescendingly when you try to help someone. The good you do can be offset by the damage caused by an insulting tone.
Love Yehuda Lave
Is It Time to Stop Fasting on the 17th of Tamuz?
Back in 2005, Rabbi Benny Lau cited in an op-ed in Ma'ariv a publication of the Movement for Torah Judaism that examined the need, after the 1967 Six-Day War, to observe some of the minor annual fasts. The debate revolved around the need for an updated interpretation of Zecharia 8:19: "So says the God of hosts: the fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be joy and gladness and cheerful seasons to the house of Judah; therefore love truth and peace."
In our lunar Jewish year, which begins in the month of Nissan, the fast of the fourth month is 17 Tamuz; of the fifth month is 9 Av; of the seventh is the fast of Gedalia on Tishrei 3; and of the tenth month is 10 Tevet.
The 1967-5727 war took place from Iyar 26 until Sivan 2. The first fast that happened on the Jewish calendar after the victory was Tamuz 17. Were Jews supposed to keep fasting, having just experienced the miracle of the liberation of all of Zion and then some – from the banks of the Suez Canal to the Syrian regions?
The dispute – largely among the National-Religious, the Haredim did not engage publicly in a similar debate – was over a segment in tractate Rosh Hashanah 18b that says, in the name of Rav Hana bar Bizna quoting Rav Shimon Hasida: "They (the fasts referred to in Zecharia 8:19) were called fast days as well as days of joy and gladness. In times of peace – they will be days of joy and gladness. No peace – we fast."
So it came down to whether the Jews in Israel considered the miracle of 1967-5727 to have restored our peace in Israel sufficiently to merit having a nice lunch on Tamuz 17 – or not. Obviously, no one actually went ahead and defied the fast that year, at least not publicly, which means that even in the midst of their euphoria over the miracle of liberation, learned Jews understood that we weren't quite there yet.
But Rav Papa made things—and choices—more complicated, when he added his version: "In time of peace – they will be days of joy and gladness; in times of religious oppression (shmad) – fasting; no religious oppression and no peace – if they want to they fast, if they don't they don't. So the Gemara asks, Does this include Tisha B'Av? Which Rav Papa answers: Tisha B'Av is different, since it is imbued with multiple suffering."
Maimonides (Laws of Fasting 5:19) expects the switch from fasting to joy to take place after the arrival of the Messiah, meaning he does not accept Rav Papa's third option. Other Rishonim (medieval contemporaries of Rashi and Maimonides) hold that Rav Papa's view is merely a hypothetical, and that once the Jews have begun to fast on the four minor days mentioned in Zecharia, we keep on fasting until a dramatic, messianic change of the course of history.
Maimonides views Rav Papa's third option as pertaining to the period of the Second Temple (Pirush Hamishna Rosh Hashanah 1:3). Apparently, in those years, if a Jew wished to fast on Tamuz 17, he stated it during the Amida prayer, as we do today for an individual fast. But on 9 B'Av everyone was obligated to fast the full 25 hour period, give or take.
It has been suggested that during the Second Temple they still mourned the loss of the First Temple for two reasons: the fact that the ten, everyday miracles of the first did not exist in the second; and the fact that the first destruction of the Temple was a precedent, and therefore could be repeated.
It appears that in order to revoke an ancient law such as the fast of Tamuz 17, mourning the day on which Moses broke the two tablets of stone on Mount Sinai; the daily Tamid offering ceased to be offered; the walls of Jerusalem were breached; the Roman warrior Apostomus (or maybe it was Antiochus Epiphanes) burned a Torah scroll; and an idol was erected in the Temple – there really has to be a major consensus among all of us that the time of joy and gladness is here again.
It's the same thing as the prayer at the Temple Mount: the real reason Jews are not allowed to even visit up there in large groups, never mind to pray, is that the vast majority of Jews don't want to go there. We're talking about religious, Orthodox Jews, who view those who do go as being somewhere between crazy and dangerously crazy.
Here's an example: in the morning supplications we say on Mondays and Thursdays, there's a lot of text about the burnt down Jerusalem: "God, in all your righteousness, please remove your ire from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain, because for our sins and the sins of our fathers Jerusalem and your nation are a disgrace to all our surroundings. […] God give us your ear and hear, open your eyes and see the desolation of the city named after You. […] Look down from the heavens and see, how we have become subjects of mocking and ridicule among the gentiles. We are considered like sheep led to the slaughter, to be killed and annihilated, beaten and humiliated…"
If most Jews today feel that the above conditions still exists in God's world, despite the political and social changes that have taken place, then we're probably fasting in Tamuz.
If we feel otherwise, we should start speaking out.
JULY 4TH 2018
"GOD BLESS AMERICA"
Photos and videos from 4th of July Party at the Embassy
ABCs of Tisha B'Av & the Three Weeks By Rabbi Shraga Simmons
The "Three Weeks" between the 17th of Tammuz and the Tisha B'Av have historically been days of misfortune and calamity for the Jewish people. During this time, both the First and Second Temples were destroyed, amongst other tragedies.
These days are referred to as the period "within the straits" (bein hametzarim), in accordance with the verse: "All her oppressors have overtaken her within the straits" (Lamentations 1:3).
During this time, various aspects of mourning are observed by the entire nation. We minimize joy and celebration – no weddings are held, we do not listen to music, nor are there haircuts or shaving. The expressions of mourning take on greater intensity as we approach the day of Tisha B'Av.
On Shabbat during the Three Weeks, the Haftorahs are taken from chapters in Isaiah and Jeremiah dealing with the Temple's destruction and the exile of the Jewish people.
Agonizing over these events is meant to help us conquer those spiritual deficiencies which brought about these tragic events. Through the process of "teshuva" – self-introspection and a commitment to improve – we have the power to transform tragedy into joy. In fact, the Talmud says that after the future redemption of Israel and the rebuilding of the Temple, these days will be re-dedicated as days of rejoicing and festivity.
The story is told of Napoleon walking through the streets of Paris one Tisha B'Av. As his passed a synagogue he heard the sounds of mourning and crying. "What's this all about?" Napoleon asked. An aide explained that the Jews were in mourning the loss of their Temple. "When did this happen?" Napoleon asked. The aide replied, "About 1700 years ago." Napoleon said, "Certainly a people which has mourned the loss of their Temple for so long, will merit to see it rebuilt!"
Seventeenth of Tammuz
The beginning of a 3-week period of mourning is the 17th of Tammuz, a fast day commemorating the fall of Jerusalem, prior to the destruction of the Holy Temple.
On the 17th of Tammuz, no eating or drinking is permitted from the break of dawn until dusk. (Should the day coincide with Shabbat, the fast is delayed until Sunday.)
Five great catastrophes occurred in Jewish history on the 17th of Tammuz:
Prior to the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostamos burned a Torah scroll – setting a precedent for the horrifying burning of Jewish books throughout the centuries.
An idolatrous image was placed in the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple – a brazen act of blasphemy and desecration.
The Nine Days
The period commencing with Rosh Chodesh Av is called the "Nine Days." During this time, a stricter level of mourning is observed, in accordance with the Talmudic dictum (Ta'anit 26): "When the month of Av begins, we reduce our joy."
During this time the additional "signs of mourning" include abstaining from meat and wine (except on Shabbat) and from doing laundry or wearing freshly laundered clothes (except on Shabbat). We also do not bathe for pleasure, though it is permitted to bathe in cool water in order to remove dirt or perspiration. For more details, see "The Three Weeks."
Tisha B'Av – Ninth of Av
The intensity of mourning reaches a peak on Tisha B'Av, five national calamities occurred:
During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 12 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)
The Temple Mount was plowed under, and Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city.
Other grave misfortunes throughout Jewish history coincided with the Ninth of Av, including the expulsion from Spain in 1492, the outbreak of World War One in 1914, and the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942.
During the late afternoon prior to Tisha B'Av, it is customary to eat Seudah Hamaf-seket – a meal consisting only of bread, water and a hard-boiled egg. The food is dipped in ashes, symbolic of mourning, and eaten while seated on the ground. (The rules are somewhat different when Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat or Sunday.)
Sundown marks the commencement of Tisha B'Av, where no eating or drinking is permitted until nightfall the following evening. It is also forbidden to bathe or wash, wear leather shoes, or engage in marital relations. We also do not learn Torah, except for texts relevant to Tisha B'Av and mourning – e.g. the book of Lamentations and Job, and certain sections of the Talmud (including the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza).
The Book of Eicha (Lamentations), Jeremiah's poetic lament over the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple, is read in the synagogue as part of the evening service. Special "Kinot" (elegies) are also recited, both at night and during the day.
Other mourning practices include sitting on a low chair (after midday, a regular chair permitted; see "Laws of Shoes and Chairs"). We also minimize business and leisure activities.
Following Tisha B'Av, all normal activities may be resumed, except for the following which are delayed until midday of the 10th of Av, because the burning of the Temple continued through the 10th of Av: haircuts, washing clothes, bathing, listening to music, and eating meat and wine.
Shall We Continue To Weep And Fast? Or Shall We Fight the Times? By Molly Resnick
Whenever I finally get my friends to reluctantly concede that the psychology-inspired panacea of endless unconditional love and self-esteem boosting does not seem to be diminishing the growing numbers of off-the-derech youth or curbing the lack of derech eretz in children, I'm inevitably confronted with that final line of defense:
"But what can we do? Times have changed."
Remarkably, the great savior of 19-century German Jewry, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, records the same exact response to Judaism's decline in his day:
"All of these facts are accepted with, perhaps, a shrug of the shoulders, and even those who most deplore such phenomena heave a sigh and add, 'What can a person do against the trend of the times!'"
Rav Hirsch, of course, was fighting a different battle than the one we're waging today; his was an overt war for the survival of Orthodox Judaism in Germany. But our battle, in its own way, is just as vital. Off-the-derechchildren are now almost commonplace, as we've moved on to dealing with drugs, suicides, and gender changes.
In our despair and helplessness before these new developments, many of us have become convinced that the best solution lies in offering the youth a mélange – a compromise of the old and the new. We must pick our battles, we tell ourselves. We must be flexible. But, according to Rav Hirsch, this attitude is pernicious:
Just when a display of manly firmness born of Divine conviction was needed, these people showed the weakness of indecision that ruined everything…. Thus they allowed to happen what they thought they could not prevent. These people still believe that they are serving the Divine cause all the more through their so-called flexibility.
Indeed, they were deluded by the argument that resistance, even only protest, would only serve to make a bad situation worse.
They were persuaded that in an era such as theirs, even the great and mighty prophets, scholars, and pious people of our past would also have given up their determination and steadfastness in favor of prudent flexibility.
Not true, says Rav Hirsch. Our ancestors "knew that the spirit of the era is the spirit of men, to which we all contribute." He continues:
Every thought or attitude that we harbor in us and bring to actuality through word and deed, every thought that is verbalized, every opinion that is converted into action – every one of these things influences this spirit.
The clearer the word and the more decisive the action, the more powerful the impression will be and the more substantial the contribution to this spirit of the era will be.
Nowadays, the universal mantra in chinuch is, "Be positive." We think it prudent to not offend, to compromise when we encounter resistance to the Torah. After all, we don't want to risk driving our youth further away. Rav Hirsch, though, sees this attitude as spinelessness:
"The teacher of the community must be impartial," which means that the truth is to be no concern of his. He must never object to anything. He must have his aphorisms of approval prepared for everything: for the rightists and the leftists, for the old and the new, for the true and the false. He must be neutral on all questions. He is expected to have picked out for himself only the kernel from the rich treasure of the Divine Truth…which everyone will accept – precisely because it bothers no one. He must pass the truth through the sieve of peace….
For the sake of peace the parents utter not one word against the un-Jewish lifestyle of their grown sons and daughters. For the sake of peace, parents consent to their offspring choosing non-religious marriage partners. For the sake of peace, parents tolerate the pernicious influence of non-religious uncles, cousins or friends.
For the sake of peace, the school, too, stands above all partisan disagreement; the school, too, repudiates truth so as not to offend the parents.
Rav Hirsch argues that we fast multiple times for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash – Asarah b'Teves, Shiva Asar B'Tammuz, Tish B'Av – because, up to the every end, we could have prevented the catastrophe had we done teshuvah. The Romans surrounded Jerusalem's walls – but all was not yet lost. The Roman breached the walls – but all was not yet lost. Until the very last moment, we could have returned to God and been saved, Rav Hirsch writes.
We parents and grandparents have compromised a great deal over the last few decades. Like the Jews in mid-19th century Germany, we have stayed silent repeatedly for the sake of peace, careful not to offend our children and grandchildren even when they trample on values we hold dear.
But it is not too late to reverse course. For we are not talking about personal preferences. We are talking about truth, and for truth we cannot compromise. Rav Hirsch writes that compromise led to the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash as people looked the other way when they saw idol worship in their family and community since they didn't wish to "disturb the peace." We must not make that same mistake.
And we cannot be wishy-washy. Compromise is not the answer. Truth is not "to be found in the middle course," Rav Hirsch writes. "Falsehood is to be found in the middle course! Truth is something that is precise and unequivocal. Two times two is four, not four-and-a-half and not five-and-a-half."
If we wish to bring the final ge'ulah, we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. When our personal honor or comfort is at stake, we should always compromise. But when divine truth is being discarded or distorted, we dare not remain silent. We must fight.