Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fasting and Finishing the Beit Hamikdash

When we start something we should finish it. There is no point in giving up half way. I am fasting for the Tenth of Tevet which is today. Here is some information about the tenth of Tevet although it is a minor fast it is observed with some stringency by many religious Jews.
An extract from wikipedia:
   "As with all minor Jewish fast days, the Tenth of Tevet begins at dawn (alos ha-shahar) and concludes at nightfall (tzeis hakochavim). In accordance with the general rules of minor fasts as set forth in the Code of Jewish Law,[6] and in contrast to Tisha B'Av, there are no additional physical constraints beyond fasting (such as the prohibitions against bathing or of wearing leather shoes). Because it is a minor fast day, Halacha exempts from fasting those who are ill, even if their illnesses are not life threatening, and pregnant and nursing women who find fasting difficult.[7]
A Torah reading, a special prayer in the Amidah (Aneinu), and (in many communities) the Avinu Malkeinu prayer are added at both Shacharis and Mincha services (unless the fast falls on Friday, when Tachanun and Avinu Malkeinu are not said at Mincha). At Shacharis services, the Selichos are also said, and at Mincha, in Ashkenazic congregations, the Haftarah is read.[8]
The fast can occur on a Friday resulting in the unusual event of a Torah and Haftarah reading at the Mincha service right before Shabbat. This is a fairly rare occurrence. The last three times this happened were on 20 December 1996, 5 January 2001 and 17 December 2010; the next time will be on 13 December 2013.
Although this fast is considered a minor fast, it has an additional theoretical stringency not shared by any other fast except Yom Kippur, namely that if the Tenth of Tevet were to fall out on a Shabbat, then according to some, this fast would actually be observed on Shabbat. This is because of the phrase עצם היום הזה ("the very day") that appears in Ezekiel 24:2, similar to the phrase בעצם היום הזה describing Yom Kippur in Leviticus 23:28. However under the current calendrical scheme, the Tenth of Tevet cannot fall on Shabbat.
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel chose to observe the Tenth of Tevet as a "general kaddish day" for the victims of the Holocaust, many of whom lack identifiable yahrtzeits (anniversaries of their deaths).[9] To some religious Jews, this day is preferable as a remembrance day to Yom HaShoah, since the latter occurs in the month of Nisan, in which mourning was traditionally prohibited."

When we start something we need to finish it and finish it properly. We started the rebuilding of the temple. We need to finish it and we need to do this right through to the end when the temple will be rebuilt and stand a gleaming house of G-D on the site of the previous two temples. At present there are cohenim in Israel who are studying the laws of the temple service and they have even reconstructed some of the temple tools and instruments of service.
We are all the servants of Moishiach each and everyone of us, whether we are religious Jews or not religious Jews. In fact those of us who fast, are fasting not only for the destruction of the Temple and the siege of Jerusalem, we are fasting for each Jew who pretends he or she does not believe in G-D and commits averiot not worthy of a Jewish person, for the destruction of these people's soul is imminent if we did not fast and beg for their forgiveness and another chance from the Master of All Worlds.
On a personal level, I remember many years ago in 1989 not long after the fast of Tisha Be'av these two women, one of them was a convert and the other had applied to convert but had not finished for some reason known only to her. They tried to stop my conversion and it started with the one who did not finish her conversion saying the most hurtful things about me that she could dredge up from her repertoire of nastiness. I had heard from the Beth Din I was to to go the mikveh the next week. Then her sister who had finished her conversion came in on the let's rip this woman to shreds party with gusto. They went on about my unfitness to be a Jew and etc etc and how dare the Beth Din accept me when her sister was a far more worthy a candidate for conversion than I was. To top it off at one stage the sister who had finished her conversion tried to scratch my face because as she told me, she hated my 'goyishe face and I don't even look like a Jew'. I was afraid and held up my hands and grabbed her arms to stop her. They both left after I had done that stating I had no right to touch her and that she had bruises and they were going to have me charged with assault. They actually went to the Av Beth Din of the time and showed her 'bruised' arms and said that I had attacked them, I heard later.
What is my reason for bringing this up. It is all about sinat am and getting over this. Hopefully those two women have grown and understood the magnitude of what they did and for me,  Hashem was showing me something about malice. I was understandably very shaken and believed that maybe I was unworthy and nearly did not go to the Mikveh because I believed myself to be the scum of the earth and unworthy. I know today that Hashem called on me to forgive and grow and move on with my life. We are all worthy of G-D's love and we just have to believe so and grow so into it.
Those two women are Jews as I am and they deserve understanding and sympathy, even empathy. We need to allow ourselves to build and not to destroy or tear down. There will be a third beit hamikdash and we all have a part in its rebuilding. May that be with the coming of Moishiach this evening at the end of the fast or even before.

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